Top Ten Tuesday: Bespectacled Book Boyfriends

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! This concept has been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I’ve added to it along the way. I’m talking here about bespectacled book boyfriends! I know this is a superficial way to categorize a hero, but it’s just so darn fun to recognize glasses as a little everyday accessory that add a bit of intelligence to any face (I say this as I wear them myself 😉 ). So, welcome to my new fan club.

The Bespectacled Book Boyfriends Club

Tom Finchley from A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

Titus from Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

Nate from Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Peter from When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Will from Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Zivon from A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White

Simon from The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan AND Oliver Thorne in Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan (shoutout to Hamish from her Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries!)

From my TBR

I have been told these are wonderful heroes, who also happen to be bespectacled

Quin from The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Ray from The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Amos from Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Have you “met” any of these book boyfriends? Do you have any bespectacled characters I need to add to my list? What did you feature for this week’s TTT?

Mini Book Reviews, edition 2

Welcome to my blog! I’m sharing some mini reviews (once again) of books I have read and enjoyed recently across a few different genres. Please visit the Goodreads links to learn more about each book!

Check out my latest mini review post here.

A Rainer Carol short story by Rachel McMillan – Contemporary Christmas Romance | Goodreads

Devoted fans of McMillan’s “Three Quarter Time” series will delight in this short story featuring Rose and Oliver, the couple from Rose in Three Quarter Time. With a sparkling Viennese Christmas backdrop and a Dickens-esque Christmas Carol spin on perspective and time, Rachel McMillan takes readers back into her story world where Oliver is as smitten as ever with his wife, Rose, while she is reluctantly making decisions his heart doesn’t fully grasp. This sets off a series of what-if chapters where Oliver experiences his world without Rose — and unexpectedly, with her — where their connection is unmistakable as ever though their circumstances separate them further. It’s really a love-letter to music, Vienna, and a soul-deep connection Oliver and Rose share that transcends anything mundane and fleeting. I love how McMillan uses perspective to show Oliver being drawn to Rose across time and possibilities. All of this is neatly wrapped up in a happily-ever-after, of course, which sees Oliver and Rose grow in the depth of their relationship and character, too.

A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman – WWII Romance | Goodreads

Strong themes of trust and the importance of faith are expressed throughout A Wing and a Prayer. The heroine, Gabe, has many lessons to learn. Her life is shaped by choices (and sometimes consequences) and greatly influenced by her loving family and the hero, Alex Kincaid. He is perfectly her match in determination and stubbornness, just with the added perspective of a little more wisdom and a strong faith. As Gabe’s headstrong ways get her out of one scrape and into another, a great saga plays out against the well-researched backdrop of WWII activities, including elements of the WASPs, medevac personnel, journalism, and bravery. They don’t refer to Julie Lessman as the queen of kisses for no reason! This story has some very intense kisses – some of them moments that become pivotal points in the growth of the characters and their friendship/romance.

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Historical Fiction/Romance, 1911 Kentucky | Goodreads

This novel is a historical piece with a fascinating true-life setting. The mountainous setting is heartfully depicted. A secondary character, Cora Wilson, was a real-life champion for literacy. A slight thread of romance happens in the background, gentle and unexpected in some ways. The plot goes in a direction which surprised me (in a good way!).

At Summer’s End by Courtney Ellis – (General Fiction) Historical Romance, 1922 England | Goodreads

While it has many (lovely) parallels to the classic Beauty and the Beast story, it tells a much deeper story than it would appear at the surface. One of sacrifice and healing, family and choices. I love how Bertie gets to know Julian (a beta hero!) and see beyond his hurts to his quiet character and strength—even when he can’t see it himself. His scars are more than physical and those form the trauma of war. It means so much to him for her to see his family and his history and accept/love him anyway!

I thought it smart that a bit of a family mystery unfurls through flashback portions (cleverly told through 3rd person POV of his sisters!) while Bertie has the narrative of present day in first person.

Content note: this is a general fiction story with a few expletives and a few barely open-door romance scenes.

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep – Victorian Mystery/Romance, 1885 London | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of intrigue and twists. While Constable Forge and his unlikely compatriot Kit Turner crisscross the streets (and tunnels of various kinds) of London searching for clues to find a missing jarvey, they become reluctant friends. The pace and action never stop but does slow down just enough for some emotional moments and development of the friendship into something more thanks to their unmistakable attraction and chemistry. I love seeing them banter and work together, especially the way Kit has heroic moments right alongside Jackson – and he loves that about her. From secret identities, a grand ball, scouring the Thames, and chases down dark alleys, this novel has romance and adventure aplenty.

At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer – Western Romance/Adventure, 1890s Texas | Goodreads

A book with everything I love in a western-romance! A take-charge cowboy leader, a strong heroine with a nontypical profession (yet plausible!), a brothers-in-arms group of friends with great camaraderie and dynamic, high stakes action throughout. The Doc situation allowed for some great moments of romantic tension through patient relations 😊 and gave Josie page time to be a “hero”, too. Not every book would translate to the screen, but I think the original action storyline would make a fantastic movie. I really enjoyed the audiobook version, as well.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy of The Moonlight School, The Thief of Blackfriars Lane, and At Love’s Command. These are my honest reviews. The other books were purchases I made and I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Twelfth Night: Christmas Story Mini Reviews

Yes, it is January. I happily just finished a Christmas story and will be watching all the Hallmark movies from this past Christmas season through the month. I have discovered some new Christmas novellas, some of which have their own blog posts already, over the past weeks. This post, though, is for the few stories I have read and not yet shared about. And since today is considered the “Twelfth Night” (before the feast of Epiphany), I thought it appropriate to share now!

(I don’t observe the 12 days of Christmas or Christmastide schedule, but I do think it’s a fun idea!)

Without further ado, here are the Christmas stories I have enjoyed this year with a few thoughts on each. (Titles link to Goodreads)

Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale (Espoir Archives #1) by Amanda Dykes

This is one short story that I was caught up in… with such lyrical writing and intriguing characters, I was hooked from the first hint of a secret in the prologue. My favorite things about it were the music!, the growth exhibited by the main characters, and the era. I absolutely LOVED that the setting was so immersive… though a definite year is never noted, it is clearly a historical novel and felt timeless because it was never specific (though hinted).

Letters Home: A Christmas Short Story by Rachelle Rea Cobb

This is a sweet and poetic short story in letter form. If you have read the Steadfast Love series, it is a wonderful companion story OR a great prequel that sets up and shows a different perspective on some of the events in that trilogy. I do hope Rachelle has more bookish plans for these characters!

His Mistletoe Miracle (Sugar Creek #3) by Jenny B. Jones

A FUN and hilarious romantic novel that also balanced a meaningful message of growth and even the fallout of a traumatic experience. With plenty of snarky, laugh-out-loud moments, Will and Cordelia navigate their newfound pretend “relationship” through holiday traditions and family gatherings, all the while really getting to know each other and prodding each other toward greater purpose. I hope to catch up on the rest of the “Sugar Creek” stories soon!

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations

Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter

Delightful and a nice start to the series, I especially enjoyed seeing the characters learn their worth and find an unexpected connection in this story.

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Though this was a novella, I thought it a well fleshed-out story in a very believable timeline. With Karen’s usual humor and endearing characters, this story takes a hero who would consider himself unlikely and pairs him with a darling little girl and a strong woman who never expected a second chance at love.

A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I laughed out loud more than once while reading this story. Fleeta’s penchant for outshooting the boys was hilarious and an outward show of her fortitude. I liked Hank as her match, a man who respected her and was equal to the challenge of showing her his care. I really liked the setting of 1950s Appalachia, too.

Because of You by Becky Wade

This novella ties in to Becky’s “Bradford Sisters Romance” series in setting. Besides the fun cameos of familiar characters, this story wonderfully concluded the collection with a friendship-to-romance plot that touched on the nostalgia of the season but focused more on the joy in serving. It also handled themes of grief in a very real and tangible way, having both Leo and Maddie come to terms with honoring the past and choosing joy and good things for the future. It ended with great possibility, not with everything worked out. and I liked that.

Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Christmas Cake Kisses by Lena Goldfinch

This short story is just as sweet as its title implies. I adore the cover and the Victorian setting, and I really liked the time spent with the characters. Arabella and Malcolm learn more about one another and grow closer, even through a misunderstanding. I could have read a whole novel about them!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10+ Novellas You Can Read in One Sitting

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

The official topic this week is “read in one sitting”. With the open-ended nature of this, I decided to go with 10 different novellas or novella collections. Specifically, a novella is longer than a short story but not as long as a novel, so think 70-150 pages. Most of them can be read in 1-2 hours, I think!

10+ Novellas You Can Read in One Sitting

Standalone Novellas

…for when you want to read a delightful story and be happily satisfied at the end.

this-quiet-sky1. This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

A touching and deeply emotional story, this one will give you a taste of Joanne’s prose-like style. Oh, and its poignancy might just leave you in tears.

HowaStarFalls-new2. How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes

This story makes you question the story world’s reality in the sweetest of ways. Is it real? Is it a modern fairy tale?

Novella Collections

…for when you want to read just 1 or several shorter stories with a related theme or element.

With This Ring3. With This Ring? collection by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jaegars

This is a cute collection of 4 marriage proposal stories…  but the proposals are anything but traditional! Oh, and they are all western rom-coms! Fans of these authors might recognize the story settings or characters as minor ones from previous series.

Love at First Laugh4. Love at First Laugh collection by Pepper Basham, Chrinstina Coryell, Heather Gray, Elizabeth Maddrey, Jessica R. Patch, Krista Phillips, Laurie Tomlinson, and Marion Ueckermann

This humorous little collection is one I’m currently reading. It promises many laughs, romance, and fun banter!

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection5. The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection by Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert, Jocelyn Green, and Maureen Lang

I recently finished this unique collection of stories all connected with a bronze keepsake bottle and a theme of hope. I enjoyed all of the different historical settings and time periods this collection spans.

Series Start Novellas

…for when you want to try out a new series or author. These wonderfully introduce the characters and establish the setting. Plus, series start novellas are often free ebooks!

If Ever I Would Leave You by Susan May Warren6. If Ever I Would Leave You by Susan May Warren

Setting up the Montana Rescue series, this novella introduces us to key characters and to a main conflict that carries on through the series. Plus, it establishes a certain relationship dynamic that I love and still want to see resolved!

Three Little Words7. Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

If you’ve never read anything by Melissa, this is a perfect place to start! This is really more of a standalone, too, because the main characters’ story is wrapped up nicely by the end. There are letters, people! But if you want more, the setting and family are featured in the Walker Family series.

 

A Singular and Whimsical Problem8. A Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan

This is a little mystery to introduce you to Jem, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper with their quirky habits and penchant for crime solving. It’s the start of a must-read historical mystery & romance series, Herringford and Watts Mysteries.

the-warriors-seal9. The Warrior’s Seal by Ronie Kendig

This sets up the Tox Files series very nicely with plenty of action and intrigue in itself. It’s the backstory, if you will, of this special team and the events that lead up to a predicament which carries on into book 1.

 

The Boden Birthright10. The Boden Birthright by Mary Connealy

You just can’t go wrong with a single-dad-turned-cowboy, a ranch in the middle of a land dispute, and a beautiful rancher’s daughter thrown together with the humor and wit of Mary’s storytelling. This is a “family history” story, if you will, that sets up Mary’s The Cimmaron Legacy series.

Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday this week? Do you enjoy novellas or short stories? Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Review: “With This Ring?” Novella Collection

Sometimes you just need a lighter story with a happy ending. That’s just what I found with Bethany House’s recent novella collection With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry by authors Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Mary Connealy, and Melissa Jagears. And with these authors in the western romantic comedy genre, you’re pretty much guaranteed to finish reading with a contented smile and happy feeling.

About the BookWith This RingHumorous Historical Romance Novella
Collection Offers Love and Laughs

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Husband Maneuver,” Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers “Her Dearly Unintended,” where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.

Mary Connealy’s “Runaway Bride” finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears’ “Engaging the Competition” finds a young woman forced to assist the man she’s often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Review

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

This story was such fun! It’s been a while since I’ve ready anything by Karen, so this was a pleasant reminder of her humorous and skillful style. I liked that the main characters already had a history together. Daniel had his reason for not acting on his feelings for Etta, and once it was revealed, you would agree it was a very honorable reason! Which made me like him even more. This was one of my top 2 favorites in the collection!

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

This was a western situation comedy with a bit of depth. Full of layers of legitimate, believable misunderstandings concerning both friendship and love, it told a coming-of-age (and maturity) story. With sass! I particularly liked the setting in the Missouri Ozarks because it is quite close to home for me!

Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy

This one is my other favorite from this collection. Hilarious at times, it has Mary’s signature humor (if you’re a fan of Connealy, I promise you’ll like it). I loved seeing familiar characters from the Trouble in TX and Kincaid Brides series, though new readers might be a little overwhelmed from 1 of the short passages introducing them! My favorite part was how John and Carrie’s relationship progressed. Their almost instant chemistry and subsequent fast-moving relationship was still believable. And, their mutual shyness-then-love story was so sweetly told by Mary. I only wish this one was a little longer because I could’ve read more about these crazy characters and their friends!

Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears

This was overall a cute story with an unexpected and pleasant take on the genre — especially with the reversal of roles for the male and female lead. She was the rancher and tough cowgirl and he was the studious school teacher. The hero has the unique impediment of extremely poor eyesight. I was anxious to see where Melissa would take that from the story setup. It proved to be an effective plot device that propelled the characters together and taught a lesson in “being enough”: your pride shouldn’t cause you to prove yourself to others if it, in turn, belittles them.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.