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The Sooner the Better by Debbie Macomber

“The Sooner The Better” starts when Lorraine Dancy finds an agonizing truth that everything she knew about her father was a lie. She was always made to believe that her father was dead, but evidence that she finds after her mother’s passing not only reveals that he is alive but that he lives in a small town on the south of the border. She heads out in search of him and in the process lands herself in big trouble. To save her from the police and a deadly thief, her father sends his friend Jack Keeler. Jack is experienced, strong and attractive and it is hard to ignore the blooming chemistry between them. Will they both find true love in one another?

I like romance novels that are not completely romantic; by that I mean the ones that do not make me feel all mushy and sentimental. The Sooner The Better was a novel that had the right proportion of different elements in it. There was adventure, some amount of suspense, betrayal, emotions of all cadres, lots of love and just the right amount of violence. The story line kept me interested till the end of the book. If I had to leave the book; I was eager to get back to it to know what was happening; and that is always a good sign.

The characters in the book had a lot of depth to them. The focus was not just on the lead characters but on most of the other characters too. Like Lorraine’s father, his second wife, her fiancée or his wife (well, you need to read the story to understand these relationship complications) – they all had relatively small appearances but left with an impact that only the lead protagonist can in most novels. I enjoyed the book for the different flavors of emotion. While I disliked a few people in the beginning; I ended the book feeling secure about the world we live in and the abundance of goodness that resides in people.

I enjoyed this book in every sense!! The Sooner The Better is a really good book by Debbie Macomber and was made better by the narrator. An interesting audio and a fulfilling story makes me want to give it a four smiley faces:



No One But You by Jillian Hart

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads

We all have the power to effect change–we just need to find the strength to harness it. With every good deed done, and helping hand offered, we are making the world a better place. The dedicated women selected as this year’s recipients of Harlequin’s More Than Words award have changed many lives for the better, through their compassionate hearts and unshakable commitment. To celebrate their accomplishments, bestselling authors have written stories inspired by these real-life heroines.

In this book, Jillian Hart honors the work of Mary Byberg, a committed volunteer for Nellie’s Shelter for Women and Children in Toronto, Ontario.

We hope More Than Words inspires you look inside your heart and to get in touch with the heroine inside of you.(less)

The View:

Mariah Duncan is an abused wife who is among the few people who manage to escape from the clutches of a monster. Her life revolves around her son Jake and the shelter she built for abused women called ‘Mary’s Place’. She is fiercely independent and her marriage had only managed to make her stronger. Years later she meets Wyatt, her first love. Wyatt and Mariah were college sweethearts and chose separate paths because of differences that arose between them. Now years later, when they meet an evident fire is burning between them; and for obvious reasons, they are both hesitant to start a relationship.

The book is short, concise and crisp. The author addresses a key social element like victimized women but manages to keep the hope alive in the plot. The love between Wyatt and Mariah is sincere and is portrayed in a mature fashion. I liked both the lead characters and Mariah’s son Jake tremendously. Since the book is short not much time was spent on character or event descriptions but whatever was done was sufficient to carry the plot forward.

Rated a 4 on 5 for a short laid-back read. This is a freebie from Amazon so go ahead and download this quickly!!


Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

The View:

This is the first book I read of Donita K.Paul and I picked it during the festive season. Of course I could not get to it before or during Christmas and only managed to read it last week. This is a Christmas romance book with wizards and magic and as you probably guessed none of these elements can ever go wrong.

Cora Crowder comes from a dysfunctional family but her faith keeps her strong. She is a remarkable young woman who is chosen to find love when she visits a mysterious yet amazing bookstore. Her office environment is a place we can all relate too, monotonous with a curt and boring boss. Simon has his personality flaws but is adorable in so many other ways. The love and care he shows for his sister Sandy makes him a hero instantly. I liked how he stammers to ask Cora out (officially) and struggles with his words.

This is an interesting book, alternating between the two lead characters the author manages to tell the tale from all perspectives with no bias. A cute romantic book with lots of festive magic capable of surely lifting your spirits up – rated a 4 on 5


Daddy by Christmas by Patricia Thayer

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
Jarrett McKane has never believed in Christmas—mistletoe and family just aren’t for him! Yet he’s drawn toward soon-to-be mom Mia Saunders, even though she’s cast him as Scrooge….
For the first time ever Jarrett puts someone else first when trouble comes calling for Mia. And when her bump becomes baby, he’s even at her bedside!

Before Mia, Christmases were spent alone. Now this previously ruthless tycoon might just have found a fairy-tale ending for all his Christmases to come!

The View:

I haven’t read any Harlequin romances this year, not because I don’t enjoy them but I seem to have outgrown most of them. The excitement of a new story or romance was no longer associated with the book and hence I gave up. But as I promised at the beginning of this year I am determined to complete the challenges I have participated in and hence I went about looking for a Harlequin romance book with a relationship in the title for the “Harlequin/Silhouette 2011 Reading Challenge”. ‘Daddy by Christmas’ provided a welcome change to my current reading pattern.

Mia Saunders lives in an almost dilapidated apartment building with elderly people. Jarrett McKane is the new owner and wants them to vacate the building so he could build a new factory, but Mia was not going to let it happen without a fight. She is pregnant, determined, good-looking and Jarrett develops an instant liking for her. They are poles apart but something about the other person kindles a spark.

Mia is a heroine I just loved. She performs her role admirably and it is but obvious that everybody loves her. The story about her past, her brother and the child she is carrying is very touching and provided a much-needed depth to the storyline. I liked Jarrett McKane even when he was the snobby arrogant owner, so it is natural that I liked him much more when he changed for the better. The elderly people in the apartment building, Jarrett’s brother’s family and even Mia’s parents added a lot of value and character to the book.

Rated a 4 on 5. This is a Harlequin romance you will enjoy reading specially at this time of the year.


Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel

Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads

In this beguiling new novel, Danielle Steel tells the story of three very different people, each of whom, on the same day, reaches a crucial turning point in life—a rite both bittersweet and full of hope, a time to blow out the candles, say goodbye to the past, and make a wish for the future.

Valerie Wyatt is the queen of gracious living and the arbiter of taste. Since her long-ago divorce, she’s worked hard to reach the pinnacle of her profession and to create a camera-ready life in her Fifth Avenue penthouse. So why is she so depressed? All the hours with her personal trainer, the careful work of New York’s best hairdressers, cosmetic surgeons, and her own God-given bone structure and great looks can’t fudge the truth or her lies about it: Valerie is turning sixty.

Valerie’s daughter, April, has no love life, no rest, and no prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future. Her popular one-of-a-kind restaurant in downtown New York, where she is chef and owner, consumes every ounce of her attention and energy. Ready or not, though, April’s life is about to change, in a tumultuous transformation that begins the morning it hits her: She’s thirty. And what does she have to show for it? A restaurant, no man, no kids.

Jack Adams once threw a football like a guided missile. Twelve years after retiring from the NFL, he is the most charismatic sports analyst on TV, a man who has his pick of the most desirable twenty something women. But after a particularly memorable Halloween party, Jack wakes up on his fiftieth birthday, his back thrown out of whack, feeling every year his age.

A terrifying act of violence, an out-of-the-blue blessing, and two extremely unlikely love affairs soon turn lives inside out and upside down. In a novel brimming with warmth and insight, beginning on one birthday and ending on another, Valerie, April, and Jack discover that life itself can be a celebration—and that its greatest gifts are always a surprise.

The View:

I have read a few Danielle Steel books but they were not my favorite. I decided to give “Happy Birthday” a chance as I was looking for books to kick-start my Romance Reading Challenge. This is a contemporary romance and I have definitely read worse stories.

The plot moves fast and has love, anger and pain at an equal ratio. The story is normal and there are no major twists or turns. Every thing moves as expected though some of the characters tended to annoy the reader at certain circumstances. As anticipated this is one with a happy ending and obviously has marriage on the cards. The relationship between Valerie and Jack started too quickly for my liking as the situation with the terrorists was not convincing enough. April’s relationship with Mike and the build up of their story leading to their marriage was definitely more real.

I liked April and she brought a lot of excitement to the story. I kept looking forward to how the future would hold for her – will Mike be the father to her child or will she be a single mom? How will she survive the accident to her restaurant? Valerie’s and Jack’s story in comparison was pale and it was just an add-on in my opinion. The book would have done well even if it did not have their romance element. Mike was irritating at the start, but you will eventually tend to like him.

Rated a 3.5 on 5. This is not the best romance novel out there but you will enjoy it as a good summer read.


Heart of the Matter by Marta Perry

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
Amanda Bodine’s Boss is so…bossy!
The hard-nosed newspaperman will only assign reporter Amanda Bodine fluff pieces about dog shows. She longs to prove herself with a serious front-page story. But then her own family becomes newsworthy. Suddenly, Ross Lockhart is sitting beside her at Sunday dinner, interviewing her relatives. And he almost seems…like part of the family. Until she realizes he’s after information that will tarnish the Bodine name! Time to teach the boss about the real heart of the matter: love.

The View:

I have read a few books by Marta Perry, I enjoyed all of them and I naturally expected the same from ‘Heart of the Matter’. This book has been on my book shelf for a long time and I eventually dug it out while doing some cleaning last week.

Amanda Bodine works as a journalist and aspires to cover an interesting story someday, but her boss the cocky and arrogant Ross Lockhart assigns worthless assignments such as dog shows to her. There may be a breaking story with the Bodine family and Ross suddenly shows a special interest on the Bodines. He meets her family and quickly warms up to Amanda and her family except her dad. Soon they are attracted to each other but the family story may not help their romance.

Initially I did not like Ross, but soon developed a liking for him. Amanda was lovable though she seemed to lack enthusiasm. I did not understand what attracted the two of them and thought that they were a slightly odd pair (the chemistry between them was overshadowed by the journalistic coverage). I would have loved to see some more romantic sparks between the two of them and was deeply disappointed. The Bodine characters were all unique and lovable. I liked the entire bunch and they surely deserve a series. (I don’t think they could have been captured in a stand-alone book)

The book was good, but not great. I have read some great books by her but this one was a slight disappointment and only rates a 3 on 5 on my scale. Will read the next book for the Bodine family.


The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

The Book:

Source for The Book section: From Goodreads
THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.

The View:

I took my time to finish this book because I was reading a number of books at the same time. Thankfully they were all of different genres so I dint lose my head.

Amanda and Dawson are childhood sweethearts but were forced to break their relationship because of his ‘not-so-clean’ family history. Both of them move on or so it seems. Now, years later Amanda is married with three kids while Dawson is still single and lives a relatively lonely life. The death of a close friend and mentor Tuck brings them together. Tuck seems to have had a defined plan in his mind to get the love birds together and through letters and actions, he makes them realize what they have been missing. The rest of the story is about whether they get back together or continue to live their current lives.

As you are probably aware, Sparks’s novels focus on the romance and just the romance. In “The Best of Me” he has taken a different approach and given us a rather wholesome picture, talking and detailing about the lives of the other characters that influence the story and the romantic pair. I really enjoyed this. The story was told from different POV’s and was appropriate at all times. Though I didn’t particularly like Amanda’s mom, her husband and Dawson’s cousins I knew that they added a lot of value and realism to the plot. In the past Sparks’s books have had some very touching personal letters showcased and I was hoping for the same impact from Tuck’s letters, but sadly that was not the case.

I enjoyed the book tremendously but it is definitely not one of his best works. That said, I have to confess that if made into a movie this would be a blockbuster as it had all the elements for a commercial success. Rated a 4 on 5