Great Summer Reads to add to your TBR pile

As always I’m feeding my reading addiction. Last week I mentioned closing books that were poorly written. Let me share some that kept me engaged from page one and did it all right IMHO. Here are a few new books I recommend you add to your TBR pile.

This first one is a historical romance set in WWI. I loved it because the author captured the cultural and historical time period so well. Loosely based on her own grandparents’ love story Patti Stockwell made Three Little Things feel oh so warm and inviting while at the same time giving the reader a realistic view of what wartime both at home and abroad was like.

Wartime Romance

Three Little Things  buy link 

One forbidden love. Two broken hearts. Three little things.

Hattie Waltz should forget the troubled neighbor leaving for boot camp in 1917. He forgot about her ages ago. It had always been the Waltzs verses the Kregers, his family pitted against hers. When she hands him a farewell gift, a chemistry lesson unfolds. The good kind.

Arno Kreger can’t leave Iowa or his old man fast enough. He’s eager to prove his worth on the battlefield and stop blaming himself for his brother’s death. Before entering the train, he bumps into Hattie. He’s loved her forever, always from the sidelines, because nobody crosses Hattie’s pa.

One innocent letter soon morphs into many. Arno and Hattie share three little secrets in each letter and grow closer together. But he’s on his way to a war across the ocean, and she’s still in her father’s house. Their newfound love will need to survive dangers on both fronts.

A Crime Suspense

Tom Threadgill is a new author to me. I had a chance to grab a ARC copy Collision of Lies and was totally engaged. The twists in the plot were so unique to any other crime suspense I have read in the past. I’m always impressed when a man can write a female character that doesn’t act and sound like a man. Maya is a clever, ambitious Hispanic female. I also appreciate that there is no swearing. Yep, a cop drama where the police are tough without tossing out unnecessary curse words. They still come across as tough guys.

Collision of Lies buy link

Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she’s correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others–and herself–that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy lives. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

A fresh voice in suspense, Tom Threadgill will have you questioning everything as you fly through the pages of this enthralling story.

Novella Collection

Courting Calamity  buy link

My last recommendation is a historical romance novella collection Courting Calamity. Some novellas feel incomplete when you reach the end of the required word count. But not these four. There is so much realism and history in each story. And the focus of each is different.  They are in chronological order by time period spanning thirty years.

Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik has a lot of suspense as a Wells Fargo Agents helps a lovely woman who is the guardian of eight orphan children while he pursues the men who robbed the train. All the clues that were carefully laid out to get the reader to the end of the story are mixed with well-research historical accuracy. The epilogue is sigh worthy.

The Second Hand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo was a fun read. Again the story is historically accurate and full of interesting characters.  By the time Zeke and Lizzy get together the small town of Polecat Creek has warmed your heart.

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer

The author decided to write the story of Alex, the one who didn’t get the girl, from The Tale of Two Hearts novella in the Of Rags to Riches novella collection. This is a marriage of convenience story matching a wealthy man with a poor Italian immigrant. Taking places in 1900 Minnesota the setting is beautiful and the characters are compelling. Add a few surprises twists and continuous page-turning is inevitable.

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barrett takes place in New York City in 1909. This is a tale of poor immigrant factory workers who find love in the midst of union riots and unbelievable circumstances. This is not your typical romantic setting. The twists in the plot are based on actual historical accounts while Aileen and Lorenzo are fictitious.  After reading the final word I had mixed emotions. I was happy for the couple but the historical events made me sad.

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.
 
Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik
California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?

The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer
Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt
New York City, 1911
Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to survive in the land of opportunity. But when her sister is accosted on the streets, she’s forced to accept the help of policeman Sean Doyle, a widower with a young son. When tragedy engulfs the city, will Sean and Aileen’s newfound love survive the raging flames?

Three Favorite Reads for February

woman reading book

Writers should be readers.

We often hear, “Writers should be readers.”  And I love knowing it’s okay to do so. It helps stimulate my brain when I take a break from writing my own novels. In the last month, I’ve read three books. One was a collection of seven historical romances, a contemporary romance, and a humorous romance.  They were all page-turners that kept me engaged. Maybe you’d like to check them out as well.

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The historical novella collection, Seven Brides for Seven Texans has all seven Hart brothers scrambling to find brides before years’ end. Their father has a heart condition he is keeping from his sons. All seven are content to be bachelors but Pa wants to see grandkids before he dies. If these handsome Texans aren’t married before December they forfeit their inheritance.

Each story is clever and the couples involved are very different. The only common denominator is the inheritance. I loved the premise and the creative of all seven authors: Amanda Barrett,Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vicki McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Loma Seilstad and Erica Vetsch. Their scenarios are so believable scenario while blending characters from the other books into the story line. As each brother finds his bride the womenfolk population grows on the ranch. By the time, Bowie the lone holdout marries life as the bachelors knew it is drastically changed.

At times, I laughed out loud and other times my eyes misted with tears. You’ll love the Hart boys and their feisty brides.

51ogzyn6ixl-_sy346_Dance Over Me

The next novel Dance Over Me  by Candee Fick has a wonderful premise. A musical theater major finally finds a job performing in Dinner Theater. We often forget Christians pursue many different career paths.

Dani is a product of foster care and was adopted at 10 by her dance instructor. Her one main goal in life is finding her baby brother who was adopted shortly after her parent were killed in an auto accident. Her childhood promise to look after him still haunts her. Now she Is pursuing her dream of being and entertainer while calling every Wilson in the Fort Collins Colorado white pages in hopes of finding Jake.

Alex the hero, trumpet player and band leader in=s content in the family business. His parents own the Wardrobe Dinner Theater. The first musical performed is 42nd Street. The plot of the novel loosely follows the storyline of the musical. It’s fun and faith-building. Dani comes to realized various truths about her relationship with God and people. I loved the title Danced Over Me based on a scripture verse declaring God dances over us with joy. What a wonderful reminder.

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Every Bride Needs A Groom

The last of the three was Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson. So funny. Told in first person through the eyes of small town girl Katie Sue. She loves her hometown Fairfield Texas. She never wants to leave. Her entire life is one big rut of sameness. Not until she enters a contest to win a free designer wedding gown from Cosmopolitan Bride does she begin to discover the rut she’s in. Her longtime boyfriend never proposes and leaves her with the embarrassing dilemma of truth vs lies. While spending time in Dallas trying to sort the no groom mess out she meets Brady James, a pro basketball player on medical leave working alongside his mother at Cosmopolitan Bride. Katie’s zany family and close-knit small town upbringing colors the basic plot with lots of funny twists. Including three brothers, an aunt and a crazy cousin who can’t stay out of her business.  Everything works out in a deliciously entertaining way by the last page.

Read for inspiration

All three of these books a total of 9 stories in all inspired me. The words are honed to perfection and I found myself experiencing Texas in the past and present and Colorado’s musical theater lifestyle. I love the you-are-there feeling in novels.

Writers must make time to read. Maybe you don’t read as many books a month as I do. But even one in two months can make a difference in your writing.  I read in my genre and out of it. It keeps my creative juices challenged. And there is a certain amount of writing technique we learn through the osmosis of reading others people’s works.

Check out these books by clicking on the covers.

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What have you been reading this month?