‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Beth Harbison

iictbt bhSTORY: Told with Beth Harbison’s wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, “If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I’d do things so differently…”

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can’t ignore the fact that she isn’t necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off…

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance…It’s her mother: “Wake up! You’re going to be late for school again. I’m not writing a note this time…”

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she’s lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she’ll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

REVIEW: Ramie Phillips is about to turn 38.  She is from Potomac Maryland and a middle class family.  Ramie has always been good at math.  Her father was a banker so at a young age, she learned all about the stock market.  Today, she a very nice nest egg she has earned from her savvy investing.  She works for Whitestone, a top private equity investment company.  Sadly, she lost her father when she was just 20. He had been a heavy smoker all of her life and died from the effects of that smoking.  Ramie is quite satisfied with her life at it is.  She loves her job and is happy to be single and to have no kids.

Ramie’s best friend is Sammy, a gay guy.  So, on the day before her 38th birthday, she, Sammy and some other friends were partying and sipping champagne on a boat when Ramie fell and hit her head.  When she woke up, she found herself in her bed in her childhood home and was once again a teenager.

Next, we follow Ramie through her high school graduation; her last few good times with her father knowing he will die soon; and chances to just be young again.  Through this, the reader learns about her life and her friends.

Has Ramie time traveled?  Will she be able to return?  Is it a dream and will she wake up soon?

I admit that I am not a fan of time travel scenarios.  Perhaps that is way the book dragged for me.  It started off like it was going to be a good story but it simply went downhill from there.  Even the ending was predictable.  I know that other readers have thoroughly enjoyed this book.  So, if you like time travel books, do give it a try.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Irish Meadows’ by Susan Anne Mason

im samSTORY: Irish immigrant James O’Leary has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his daughters to marry prosperous men–ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

REVIEW: Long Island, New York – 1911

Gilbert (Gil) Whelan’s mother had been the housekeeper at the O’Leary family mansion, Irish Meadows. The O’Leary family loved Gil so much and thought of him as a son so when his mother passed away, he continued to live with them until he went away to college.  After graduation, he returned to the mansion to continue working with the racehorses that he loved and trained.

Brianna O’Leary has just graduated from high school and has matured into a beautiful young woman. She loves the horses but yearns to continue her education and go to college.  She and Gil have always been close and the spark is still there when he returns to Irish Meadows.

Older sister, Colleen, is a beautiful young woman with no real ambition.  She is jealous of the attraction between her sister and Gil as she wants him for herself.  She tends to be a mean spirited young woman constantly causing friction.

Rylan Montgomery is a distant cousin to Mrs. O’Leary and has just arrived from Ireland to study to be a priest at St. Rita’s church.  One of the things he busies himself with is helping out at the local orphanage.

When Colleen angered her father yet again, she was ordered to help at the orphanage with Rylan.  She soon found that she loved the work and the children too.  Her togetherness with Rylan helps her to find her true self and they both find something else as well.

Brianna and Gil love each other but he wants to establish himself before asking her to marry him.  He wants to prove to Mr. O’Leary that he worthy of his daughter and wants to save enough money to buy land and start his own horse farm.  Yet, Brianna still wants to attend college.  How can they resolve their differences and still stay together?

We see how the stress of achieving certain goals for each of the characters upsets their feelings for the ones they love.

This is a really good story that shows the growth and maturity of the characters as they find out what is truly important in life.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and know that others will as well.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Groom by Design’ by Christine Johnson

gbd cjSTORY: The Dressmaker’s Daughters: Pursuing their dreams a stitch at a time

Her Heart and Her Business Are on the Line

Dressmaker Ruth Fox gave up her dream of a husband and children long ago. Her family’s floundering dress shop, her ailing father and her two younger sisters require Ruth’s full attention. Though the handsome new stranger in town is intriguing, Ruth is certain he wouldn’t look twice at a plain spinster of twenty-six.

Sam Rothenburg’s connection with the shy young woman next door is immediate, but he knows Ruth will be crushed when she discovers his real purpose in town. Sam is secretly working to open one of his father’s large department stores in Pearlman, Michigan, which will surely put Ruth out of business. How much is Sam willing to sacrifice to claim Ruth’s heart?

REVIEW: Pearlman, Michigan – 1923

Ruth Fox, age 26, is a very skilled dressmaker at the family’s Fox Dress Shop.  Her older sister, Beatrice, married Blake Kensington whose family was very wealthy in town.  There are two younger sisters, Jen and Minnie.  Mr. Fox has been ill with a weak heart for some time and is a patient at a sanitarium.  Mrs. Fox is staying there with her husband.  Ruth has worked very hard to run the shop and make money for the family’s dwindling finances.  Beatrice wants so much to help her family but her husband refuses to provide any funds to do so.

Sam Rothenburg is in town to build Hutton’s Department Store just next door to the Fox Dress Shop. Sam’s father is a wealthy man who has made his money in many ruthless ways.  Sam works for his father building department stores.  The fact that a department store will be built in town has been kept a secret.  Most people think it will be another type of store.  Sam’s father’s goal is to buy the Fox Dress Shop and then close it down.

When Sam and Ruth accidentally run into one another, Sam introduces himself as simply Sam Roth not wanting her to know who he really is.  He is smitten with her and would love to see her use her talents as a dressmaker in his new store.  Ruth is attracted to Sam but doesn’t feel as though she can think of anything but trying to pay the late mortgage bills and keep the shop open.  She feels she cannot think of herself and her own future until her father is well and the shop financially stable once again.

When Sam’s father comes to town to criticize him on his handling of the soon-to-be open store, Sam realizes that he has simply become his father’s puppet and refuses to bow to the man’s demands.  Sam cares about Ruth and her family and does not want to see them lose their livelihood.

Will Sam and Ruth be able to work through the problems they both have with their families and find a way to have a future for themselves?  This is a sweet story with a lot angst experienced by the characters.

Connie for b2b

‘Lady Beresford’s Lover’ by Ella Quinn

lbl eqSTORY: Ella Quinn’s bachelors are quite sure of what they want in life—and love—until the right woman opens their eyes…

After a painful heartbreak, Rupert, the handsome young Earl of Stanstead, has decided that when it comes to love, avoidance is best. Until he meets a woman who makes him forget his plan—and remember his longing for a wife and family. Yet he senses that she too has been hurt, though she attempts to hide her feelings—and more—in the most baffling and alluring way. Intrigued, Rupert is willing to play along, if winning her is the prize…

Crushed by her late husband’s scorn, Vivian, Countess of Beresford, believes she is monstrously undesirable. Sadly childless, she has moved to London resigned to a solitary life. Still, when she encounters Rupert at a masquerade ball, her disguise as Cleopatra emboldens her. Convinced he doesn’t recognize her, she begins an after-hours affair with him, always in costume—while allowing him to innocently court the real her by day. But when Rupert makes a shocking choice, will Vivian be able to handle the truth?…

REVIEW: Beresford Abbey, England   1817

Vivian, the widowed Countess of Beresford, is nearly out of mourning and eager to leave the Abbey.  Her deceased husband had a mistress whom he loved and never cared for Vivian.  Their marriage had been arranged by their fathers.

Silvia Corbet is Vivian’s companion and the daughter of the vicar.  Silvia has known the Beresford family for many years and grew up with the new Lord Beresford.  Actually, the man proposed marriage to Vivian thinking it would be as easy match for them both.  Shocked, she declined.  At one time, Silvia had a crush on the man but not has only disdain for him.  Silvia’s cousin, Clara, the Dowager Marchioness of Telford, suggests that Silvia and Vivian head to town for the Little Season.  Clara wanted to provide Silvia with a season.

Rupert, the Earl of Stanstead, is looking for a wife.  Although he is younger than most men seeking marriage, he has seen the happiness of his married cousin, Robert and his wife, Serena, and wants the same for himself.

Rupert meets Vivian at a ball and is quite smitten by her and she by him.  They become good friends sharing in political discussion groups and working toward helping the less fortunate.

Vivian is shy about getting married again.  She had been verbally abused about her body by her late husband.  She is a true innocent about love in the bedroom.  So, as their relationship heats up and they are ready to consummate their love, Rupert soon becomes not only her lover but her teacher as well.

This was a good story.  For me, I found the “masquerade part” to be a bit far-fetched.  In addition, the excessive number of characters often made the flow of the story to be somewhat confusing.  However, I have enjoyed the author’s books in the past and look forward to more from her.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Love Unexpected’ by Jody Hedlund

lu jhSTORY: A Perfect Blend of History and Romance, with a Whisper of Mystery

All she’s ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn’t be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can’t even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others’ problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.

But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife’s death, and it seems as though Emma’s answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous.

REVIEW: 1859 – Michigan

Emma Chambers and her brother Ryan Chambers are from Ireland and heading into Michigan when their ship is taken over by pirates and burned.  They are able to grab and barrel and swim to shore at Presque Isle.  Emma made it only with the help of the lighthouse keeper, Patrick Garraty.  Having no money, Ryan was able to find work chopping wood.

Patrick Garraty had just buried his wife leaving him to care for 2-year-old Josiah.  As Emma needs work to care for herself, it was suggested by the traveling minister that Emma marry Patrick and live with him at the lighthouse so she could care for Josiah. That would enable Patrick to do his job at night and get some sleep during the day. With no other recourse, Emma and Patrick agree.

Emma has a difficult time learning to cook and is very busy trying to clean the dirty house and care for Josiah and his 2-year-old temper tantrums.  She and Patrick learn to become friends but there is nothing physical in their marriage.  Patrick and his first wife had no love between them as she was a mean woman who found Patrick offensive. Thus, he was in no hurry to consummate his second marriage.

Patrick has a past that he is working to hide.  Although he has sinned a lot, he has found God and has become a very religious man.  As Emma gets to know Patrick better and she talks to his first wife’s cousin, she learns that he does have a past but not exactly what it involves.  However, she sees that he is a good man is not going to turn her back on him.

The plot is a good one but for me, the story seemed to drag a bit which became wearying.  However, I’m sure others may find it perfect for them.

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Rosanne Bittner and ‘Do Not Forsake Me’!

This July marks the release of ‘Do Not Forsake Me’, Rosanne Bittner’s long-awaited sequel to her beloved title ‘Outlaw Hearts’. To celebrate, we’re pleased to welcome father and son Jake and Lloyd Harkner, who have agreed to sit down with us today to answer a view questions about their relationship and the impact it has on this latest release.

What three things would you want with you on a deserted island?

JAKE: My wife, my wife and … oh, my gun.

LLOYD: My wife, a gun and a good horse.

***

dnfm rbBOOK BLURB: Fate brought them together. His past may tear them apart.

Miranda Hayes’ life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner…and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace…balanced on the knife’s edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there’d be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Apple / BAM / B&N / Chapters / Indiebound / Kobo

EXCERPT:

In this excerpt Jake has been gravely wounded and Randy has been through the hell of thinking she was losing him. She is talking with a reporter who wants to write about Jake.

“Ma’am, if I may ask … how do you do it?” Jeff asks.

“You’re a mother, a grandmother, and wife to a man who has to be difficult to live with.”

Randy glanced at Jake’s guns lying on the table.

“No one understands my husband the way I do, Jeff.  No one.  I know every detail about his life, including when he was a little boy. I know how he thinks and what his needs are. I know how he suffers silently on the inside. That’s how I do it.”  She wiped at her eyes.

“Jake has a good heart. He treats me with total devotion and respect, so no, he’s not difficult to live with.  We’ve had some really bad times, a couple of them a big test of our marriage, but deep down I’ve always known how much Jake Harkner loves and needs me.”

She seemed to be in another world for the moment.  “And years ago, not long after we’d met and then gone our separate ways, thinking it was best because he was a wanted man, Jake rode out of my life and I headed west to find my brother.  The people I traveled with left me at a trading post when they thought I was dying from a snakebite, and the men at the trading post were … awful.  I was in terrible pain, sure I was dying … and one day I heard Jake’s voice, felt him lift me into his arms and promise me he’d never let me out of his sight again. He’d tracked me down and come back for me. I remember how gentle he was when nursing me back from death, bathing me, feeding me, keeping me warm … and never once did he take advantage or touch me wrongly. I knew then all I needed to know about him.  I fell totally, deeply, madly in love with the real Jake Harkner.”

 >>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<< 

rosanne bittnerAUTHOR BIO: USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity.

Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Blog

 

‘Do Not Forsake Me’ by Rosanne Bittner

dnfm rbSTORY: Fate brought them together. His past may tear them apart.

Miranda Hayes’ life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner…and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace…balanced on the knife’s edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there’d be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.

REVIEW: I tend to get attached to some of the greatest fictional characters I read about and Jake and Miranda Harkner is a couple I hated to say goodbye to after I was done with ‘Outlaw Hearts’. Lucky for me that their story continues in this sequel!

If you haven’t read the first book in which this couple met, don’t fret too much (although if I were you, I’d be getting it because it really was a wonderful beginning to their romance), because the author wrote this story so well you’ll be catching up on all their history soon enough.

I must say that what I liked the best about this story and our main protagonists is the way we were invited into their marriage. Not many authors are willing to take their readers on this trip through a life well lived and showing us what a marriage really means.

Seriously (besides “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon), there aren’t many saga’s out there delving into the lives of middle aged heroes and heroines, so once you stumble on such a story, you just have to read it, especially if you’re my “middle age” ;)

If you’re into Western romance, complex and strong characters and plenty of action and danger, this is a must read for you.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher