Welcome Back by: Lin Stepp

Welcome BackWelcome Back by Lin Stepp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cowardice can never step free of the past, only bravery can.

With her daughter’s plea to come back home, Lydia is comes back with no expectations to the daughter and husband she left behind. Because of the manipulation and emotional abuse of her mother-in-law, Lydia took her two sons and moved from the clutches of her mother-in-law. Her daughter is now grown up with twin boys of her own and her husband is continuing the family business of farming. Her son’s do not support the ideal of Lydia coming back to the husband that did not stop the abuse of his mother to their family.

A story of pain when living under oppression and picking up the pieces and years later redeeming the time of pain and misunderstanding. Lydia’s husband John must prove himself to his family for not leading and protecting the family that fell under the manipulation of his mother. The relationship between Lydia and her husband had to be rebuilt but I felt that more could have been done to the relationship between mother and daughter. The daughter had chosen to stay with her father and not leave with her mother. There was more to that disconnect that could have upped the narration a bit. It was a good read on the vulnerability of relationships and what needs to be done to repair what has been damaged.

A Special Thank You to Kensington Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Platinum Doll by: Ann Girard

Platinum DollPlatinum Doll by Anne Girard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jean Harlow- a woman who seemed to have everything, was constantly in battle of being consumed by those who would manipulate and control her. From her mother to Howard Hughes. From her marriage to her big break, she seemed to suffer from not knowing who she was.

The narration was passive and that made it a little difficult to be engaged in Jean Harlow’s story. It makes you wonder if she really was that passive or if it was easier to let others control her. Her life was more sad than happy because of it.

I am big fan of old movies and the lives that lived them. If you are too, you will want to read Jean’s story.

A Special Thank You to Harlequin (US & Canada and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Surviving Haley by: Brenda Baker

Surviving HaleySurviving Haley by Brenda Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato

The words ring true.

What does a family to do cope with an accidental death? Lauren’s family has moved from Minnesota to Nebraska to escape the pain of losing a sister and a daughter. However, the pain goes with them as they struggle to pick up the pieces.

The narration is told by Lauren and the pain she is suffering as she is dealing with guilt. Her addiction to food and not being able to trust. Both of her parents struggle as well. Her mother has her own addiction and her father at a loss in how to put his family back together. When Lauren freaks out on her first day at school, she makes an enemy but she also makes a friend. An enemy that has her own insecurities and a friend that has found Jesus. Her principal seeing that she needs help, directs her to the school therapist who by not forcing her to talk, helps her to see her pain so she can cope.

What I liked about this book is that is expressed raw pain and how going thru the pain is different for everyone. The author also used different addictions and how those addictions can get take over ones life. Lauren’s friends and enemies were not a broad brush but real people. A Christian, a Hindu, and the popular girl that appears to have everything. Sometimes being stupid can be brave.

A Special Thank You to Pelican Book Group and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Forgotten Room by: Karen White

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room by Karen White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rating 3.5 Stars

A tiny thing as a lie could be like a pebble tossed in a pond, its ripples felt for decades. Disappointment and regrets become the destiny for 3 generation of women.

Three women, three different times and a Forgotten Room that ties them all together. It is prose of love lost as each generation is driven to find what bind them together. Olive is determined to bring good to her father’s name after he committed suicide. He built the Pratt mansion and she knows that the Pratt family is to blame. She becomes a maid for the household that her father was employed as an architect to bring justice to her family. She poses as a model for the youngest Pratt son and the two fall in love. Circumstances bring them apart and Olive begins a new relationship under the duress of her mother.

The narration is told in three voices and in three different times. Late 1800 to the 1940’s. Olive as she searches for redemption for her father. Lucy, Olive’s daughter as she searches for who her real father is. Kate the daughter of Lucy is now a doctor in male dominated world of the 1940’s. Her patient holds in his possession a painted picture of her likeness. Who is he and why the strong connection?

The story read well. Each other chapter was in each women’s voice as they discover who they really are and the destiny that was denied and pursued. It was a clean read in the style of Pride and Prejudice.

A Special Thank You to Penguin Group and Netgalley for the ARC the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Return to Paradise by: Barbara Cameron

Return to Paradise (Coming Home #1)Return to Paradise by Barbara Cameron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Emotional abuse in families is prevalent in all families. I was pleased how it was portrayed in the Amish family of Paradise, Pennsylvania. David’s father emotional abuse became unbearable that David and his brothers left everything that they had known including 3 sisters that loved them in their community. Kate and her sisters were heartbroken when the brothers left without a word. They realized the abuse however, they did not know the reality of the abuse. Only when David’s father became ill, Kate approached David with the news of his father and his mother’s plea to come home. Kate and her sisters begin to volunteer at a shelter for abused women with their children. It is there they begin to understand the implications of physical abuse and emotional abuse.

David’s and his brothers had to start over again in the English world and the struggle that came along with it in leaving their Amish community. How difficult it is start over for the Amish that decide to leave.

This prose touched on so many things and it gave the reader a peek into what abuse can do but also how one must protect themselves from such abuse. Kate had to learn to balance in helping David with his father and not be dragged into the cycle of abuse.

A Special Thank You to Abingdon Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Tracker by: Chad Zunker

The Tracker (Sam Callahan Series #1)The Tracker by Chad Zunker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I had experienced the full measure and ramifications of these words the past three days. And I’d lived to tell about it.

Sam Callahan has a job he was born to do. Track political candidates without being noticed and have the capability to be where they are at any given moment. With a close election between candidates, there is more pressure to get the real story. When a undisclosed text directs Sam to a motel and to be ready, he cannot pass up the opportunity. What he gets is more than he bargained for as he is now running for his life after witnessing a murder. Sam begins to question who he can trust and who was behind the murder. As more people are taken out, Sam becomes the #1 suspect as he now has to find out who is behind this political motivated set up.

The narration is fast paced as you come to know Sam Callahan and the special gifts he has to outrun trouble. Going back to his life as a foster kid, his mother’s abandonment, and his life on the streets. How his life turned around meeting a pastor that saw something good in him and gave him the tools to succeed and run from the life that had nothing for him. I have to do a shout out for the author’s theology because it was good! I loved the relationship between the pastor and Sam. The gospel compels me. Can’t get to the heart without getting to know you first! and the lessons that he taught Sam It’s not about being worthy. It’s about being grateful. And letting that gratitude help you maximize the new opportunities you’re getting. I am grateful

A compelling thriller with heart. Very rare but something I appreciate!

A Special Thank you to Chad Zunker and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Two-Family House by: Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family HouseThe Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love is always forgiving

I loved the relationship dynamics of this family prose. You meet two brothers Abe and Mort. Mort is a numbers guy and does not relate well to others. Abe he is relational and warm and is different from his brother Mort. Because they are so different, their mother fixed it that they would share the family business. It is because of this manipulation, Mort loses his dream of going to school and becomes resentful towards his family. The brothers marry and share a home and become a two-family house. Their wives are best friends and enjoy each others children. Mort and his wife Rose have all girls and Abe and his wife Helen have all boys. One uneventful night with one choice made, changes everything for both families.

The author threaded these relationships so well that as these relationships unravel, you understand the insecurities that brought them there. The marriage between Mort and Rose is painful to read but the desperation it paints reveals how despair is fueled while the contrasting marriage of Helen and Abe is inspiring.

The Two Family House makes you feel …about being a parent, about friendship, about a bad marriage and good marriage and what forgiveness really means. I had to get my Kleenex out.

A Special Thank You to St. Martins Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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