First Impressions

First Impressions by Nora RobertsFirst Impressions by Nora Roberts was actually two stories in one. First Impressions was my favorite of the two. Vance Banning moves to a rural town to try to get away from his stressful life and find some peace. He doesn’t expect to meet his neighbor Shane and find himself immediately attracted to her. The two are drawn to each other but when secrets are found out, their love might not be able to overcome the problems they bring.

Blithe Images is the second story, and didn’t really appeal to me as much as the first. Hilary is a model who is doing well in her career and is often an exclusive contract with Bret Bardoff who owns a magazine with highest acclaim. He is sometimes difficult to work with, but Hilary finds herself craving all of him including his love.
I enjoyed First Impressions more because the characters were more realistic as well as the plot. I wasn’t really a fan of Bret from Blithe Images so that drew me away from the story. He wasn’t the best hero to read about. I would definitely recommend the first story but am less inclined to recommend the first.

Across a Hundred Mountains

Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna GrandeAcross a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande told the story of two girls, one American and one Mexican who meet up in a prison in Tijuana. Juana’s father has traveled to America in an attempt to make money for his family to get them out of the small shanty that they live in. Having not had any word from him in years, the people around them say horrible things about how he must have found a white woman and forgotten all about them. Juana doesn’t believe a word they say and sets off to find him.

Adelina is now in her 30s and has returned to Mexico to find her own father, leaving behind the man she loves to do so. She has no idea if her father is dead or alive but needs to find out before she reunites with her mother whom she hasn’t seen in years.
This was a very poignant novel which switched points of view between young Juana and Adelina. Although the meeting of the two doesn’t actually occur until almost the end of the novel, they are both tied together by the journeys they take. Grande captured so much feeling with her words and had me crying and feeling the pain of Juana and Adelina.
I was enraptured by this novel and couldn’t stop until I found out what became of both Juana and Adelina. I got to experience Mexico and the hardships which some people there face. It was eye opening. This was a wonderful story which encompassed all emotions and touched me deeply.

The Devlin Diary

The Devlin Diary by Christi PhillipsI loved The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips. Claire Donovan has just made her way to Cambridge and is looking for something to write her next paper on. She stumbles upon an encrypted diary and becomes intrigued.

The diary belongs to Hannah Devlin who practices medicine in the seventeenth century. She is unwillingly brought to take care of the king’s favorite mistress. Soon several bodies start showing up with different symbols carved into their chests. Hannah and Dr. Edward Strathern find themselves on the trail of the killer.
Meanwhile in present time, Claire and Andrew Kent, a Cambridge Fellow, are on the trail of another killer when one of their colleagues is murdered. The diary appears to be an integral part in finding both the killer in the present and the killer in the seventeenth century.
This is the sequel to The Rossetti Letter and one I have been waiting for ever since it was announced. I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to read this one. And it did not disappoint. I loved how Claire and Andrew came back in the second book and how the past and present paralleled each other. It was wonderful. The characters were so well-developed that I felt like I knew them well.
The past was so vivid and alive. The mysteries kept me going from one chapter to the next as I tried to figure out who the two killers were and what their motives were. I also enjoyed the romance which was spread across the two centuries and served as an undertone to the intrigue. I couldn’t get enough of this novel and cannot wait for her third novel whatever it may be!

Vision in White

Vision in White by Nora RobertsVision in White by Nora Roberts was a wonderful story which encompassed two of my most favorite things: love and weddings. Mackensie Elliot, known by her friends as Mac, is a well-known wedding photographer for the company Vows which she and her three childhood friends run together to bring about perfect wedding days. Mac photographs couples and their families in their perfect moments but doesn’t think she could ever have a happily ever after for herself.

Then Carter McGuire comes along, and he proceeds to surprise her over and over. With a clingy and manipulative mother and absent father, Mac doesn’t have many role models in the way of successful and loving marriages. This makes Mac less than willing to start anything with Carter even though she’s never had a man make her feel the way she does when she’s with Carter.

Carter can’t seem to get enough of her and only wants to show Mac how much she means to him and how much she’s worth it despite everything she tries to tell him otherwise.

I fell in love with this book from the prologue when we see the four women as little girls playing “Wedding Day.” Mac has many layers and was easy to like. Carter was adorable and the perfect match for Mac. I loved the backdrop of the wedding business and all the magic and hard work it entailed. I also love the friendship between Mac and her three friends. Nora Roberts was able to give each of the characters distinct personalities, even those who have very little part in the plot.

This is the first of four books, and I can’t wait to read the next love story of one of the remaining single ladies at Vows.

The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Tamera AlexanderThe Inheritance by Tamera Alexander reminded me a lot of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman in regards to the time period. McKenna Ashford is trying to start over with her younger brother Robert. The two move west to join their cousin and her family, but it seems as if nothing is going to go as planned as McKenna encounters one surprise after another.

McKenna especailly doesn’t expect to meet U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon. He seems instantly drawn to her even though he’s not sure if he should risk his heart again. And although McKenna finds his attractive, she wants nothing more than to get him out of their lives. As McKenna struggles to take care of her brother and the new hand life has dealt her, she finds herself relying on Wyatt a little more than she would like.

I really liked this novel. The characters were strong and well-written especially McKenna. I loved how each character had a different way of dealing with the hard situations which are continuously thrown at him or her. I thought Tamera Alexander portrayed this time period well. I got a good taste of the beginning prejudices against certain races and how other cultures were viewed during this time period. It was very enlightening.

This was my first book by this author, and I picked it up on a whim. I’m glad I did. The story was full of good family values which I think some other novels lack. I looked and saw that this was the first in a series of books so I’ll probably be checking out the next one once it’s released.

As Sure as the Sun

I loved As Sure as the Sun by Anna McPartlin Sure as the Sun by Anna McPartlin. Harriet Ryan has just had an anxiety attack before her second wedding attempt to the same man. She has no idea why it’s happening because she loves her fiancé James and wants nothing more than to have a life with him, but something inside her seems to be holding her back. She just doesn’t know what.

Harri’s twin brother George has a feeling that her attack is a lot more than just cold feet so he brings it up to his parents who finally admit to hiding a secret that has the potential to completely tear their family apart.
Along with the story of Harri and George, we get to read the diary entries of a teenage girl who has seemingly nothing to do with the main plot line except for the connection of a couple of characters.
I discovered my love for Anna McPartlin when I read her first novel, Pack Up the Moon. She has a wonderful way with words and creating characters who are far from perfect and usually have deep issues that need resolving before they can continue on with their lives. Her books are more journey’s for her characters to come to terms with themselves so they can continue on with their lives.
This novel was just as moving as her other two novels. I fell in love with all the characters as the supporting cast was given as much depth as the main characters. And each person had their own problems and had to find a way to deal with those as well as be there for Harri when she gains the shock of her life.
I cannot wait to read Anna McPartlin’s next novel. She’s such a dynamic writer whom I am unable to get enough of. I encourage you to read this one along with Pack Up the Moon, andApart From the Crowd. All three are excellent novels.

A Company of Swans

A Company of Swans by Eva IbbotsonA Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson tells the story of Harriet Morton whose seemingly only joy in life is ballet. She is strictly watched over by her spinster aunt whose frugal nature causes everyone to dread attending her dinner parties and her widow father, a professor who took Harriet out of school when her teacher dared to suggest possible colleges for her.

Harriet, surrounded by gloom and dressed in the most hideous clothes allows ballet to be her outlet. She never imagined that a Russian man would desire her to be in his ballet corps on its way to perform in the Amazon. Her father quickly shoots down the idea, as no daughter of his, especially one who is about to be engaged to the entomologist Dr. Finch-Dutton, is going to bring shame on the family by dancing in South America.

Harriet, having lost ballet, becomes forlorn until meeting a little boy as sad as she is and learns of the “secret boy” who is rumored to be in the Amazon himself. Harriet devises her plan and is soon on a ship with the rest of the ballet company bound for the rain forest.

Once there, she finds beauty and clarity and can picture herself nowhere else, doing nothing else, especially when she meets Rom Verney, the owner of the grandest opera house where she dances as a swan in Swan Lake. But Harriet’s life begins to catch up to her, and she is at a loss as to what to do.

This was a lovely story which gave a look into the Amazon during the early 1900s. The supporting cast was wonderful, especially Marie-Claude, one of Harriet’s ballet friends who can speak of nothing but her love and devotion to her fiancé Vincent and the restaurant they are going to open. Harriet has so much spirit, and it spills forth from the pages as she comes alive. Rom is the perfect leading man, noble and generous and a little broken on the inside.

Eva Ibbotson is a wonderful author. This is the third book I’ve read by her. A Countess Below Stairs and The Morning Gift both had me glued. She’s a master at writing historical fiction of all kinds and keeps me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see if everything will turn out all right in the end.

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