Love in Three Quarter Time (The Vienna Trilogy #1) by Rachel McMillan

Genre: Romance
Publication Date: February 2018

Evelyn Watt tumbled head over heels when Austrian marketing director Rudy Moser walked into their Boston firm. Suddenly jobless, Evelyn follows him across the ocean to lend her American vernacular in cataloging his family’s heirlooms for a grand Valentine’s Day auction. During that time, she will sleep, eat, and breathe everything Vienna, and hopefully win Rudy over in the process.

The city provides an intoxicating blend of waltzing, ancient treasures, and coffee galore at her favorite local hangout. But when Evelyn stumbles upon a Moser family secret, she must reevaluate what she believes to know of Rudy. Meanwhile, her Café Mozart tablemate a grumpy and perplexing professor, Klaus Bauner, just might hold the key to the Moser’s past and her own heart.

An exotic location, a heroine infatuated with a man who is all wrong for her, a swoony professor waiting for her to figure it out, Love in Three Quarter Time possesses all the makings of a sweet, Hallmark-like romance. Rachel McMillan carries her readers to the city of her heart, Vienna, making them fall in love with it as much as she has.

Handkerchief-carrying, satchel-toting, and spectacles-wearing Professor Bauner — not to be confused with Professor Bhaer of Little Women fame — knows how to make a woman’s heart pitter patter. Old fashioned in the best sense of the word, he is the perfect gentleman.

Evelyn — oh Evelyn — at times I wanted to slap her atop the head. How can anyone have eyes for Rudy when Bauner exists? With a few extra curves and two left feet, Evelyn offers a realistic character to root for and shows that true beauty doesn’t resemble society’s notions of “perfection.” Introverted and lacking in confidence, the heroine discovers that sometimes the best things in life come when you’re willing to step (or fly) out of your comfort zone.

My complaint with this novella is its length. Not because the story lacked anything, but because I wanted more. The end snuck up on me far too quickly. Then again, it resembles an espresso, small yet potent. Readers who enjoy breathtaking locales and professor types, or might secretly harbor the desire of being swept off their feet in a foreign country will want to experience this tale. McMillan fans keep in mind that Love in Three Quarter Time is a contemporary novella unlike her previous works which fall under historical fiction.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

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The Perfect Catch by Cassidy Carter

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018

As a teenager, Jessica Parker dreamed of escaping her hometown. Years later, she’s a single mother saddled with her late grandfather’s dying diner still stuck in Parker Falls. When her childhood sweetheart, Chase Taynor — a potentially washed-out professional baseball player — rolls into town to lick his wounds after a disastrous play, Jessica’s life complicates.

She hasn’t forgotten the pain his departure inflicted, but her son, Wesley, desperately needs a baseball coach and Chase will return to his big-league life soon anyway. However, some feelings aren’t as buried as Jessica would like to pretend. As the two reconnect, she risks losing her heart and having it crushed by the same guy who already left her once before.

A sweet story of second chances, The Perfect Catch is a Hallmark movie I love to rewatch, so I couldn’t wait to read Cassidy Carter’s novelization. A tale of forgiveness, love, and family, I could root for the protagonists as they discovered that the true value in life doesn’t always lie where one might expect. Wesley, as starved to learn baseball as he is for a father figure and role model, latches on to the professional player. Watching Chase step up to plate and take the boy under his wing melted my heart.

My numerous viewings of the made-for-TV-movie allowed me to visualize every scene as it unfolded. Unfortunately for those who haven’t seen it, setting and character description lacked greatly — as though watching silhouettes moving about a blank stage. The story also needed more showing and less telling. The continuous use of phrases such as “s/he realized/felt/ knew/could tell/etc.” pulled me out of the tale, keeping me at arm’s length rather than completely immersed. This being said, that wouldn’t stop me from reading more books by Hallmark Publishing or this author. Both are fairly new to the publishing world and those issues will probably work themselves out with time and experience.

Though not a homerun, The Perfect Catch delivers a solid base hit. I recommend this story of love and forgiveness to Hallmark fans who enjoy cute, entertaining reads that still cling to family-friendly values.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Character Spotlight + Giveaway: Lindsay Harrel’s Megan and Caleb

About the Story:

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Meet Megan Jacobs

Resembles: Rachel McAdams

Age: 32

Occupation: Library aide

Megan has always wanted to be a travel writer. When she decides to complete Amanda’s bucket list, she does it as much for Amanda as for herself. With her donor’s parents’ blessing, she starts a blog and writes an entry for every location she visits.

Of course, nothing in life is ever easy. Megan faces several challenges before she even begins: she’s never traveled anywhere before (so she’s rather naïve!), she constantly worries about relapsing (so she’s a health nut to the extreme), and her estranged sister Crystal—who once-upon-a-time was her best friend and now is a virtual stranger—wants to come along for her own reasons.

Despite all of that, Megan remains positive and friendly. She has not let life steal her light, even in the darkest of times. Though she doesn’t realize it, she’s an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

But will she ever be able to take a leap of faith and learn to live her life—the one she never thought she’d have—to the fullest?

Meet Caleb Watkins

Resembles: David Giuntoli

Age: 34

Occupation: Travel Photographer

He spent years in the hospital as a teen and 20-something. In fact, that’s how he met Megan. They were often in the hospital at the same time, and together they watched the Travel Channel and flipped through countless issues of National Geographic, deciding that someday they’d travel the world together—he would take the photos and she’d write the articles.

When he finally got a heart transplant a few years before Megan did, he decided he wouldn’t waste another day not pursuing his dream. Now he spends most of his time out on safari in Africa, attending festivals in Denmark, trekking through Tibet, and pursuing any other adventure he can.

The way he lives life takes courage—something Megan desperately wants, but is afraid to pursue. In fact, Caleb is the one who inspires Megan to take the first step toward her own adventure. He doesn’t seem afraid of anything.

But he’s got a secret. He’s crazy about her.

When they meet up during Megan’s trip around the world, will he finally have the courage to pursue something more—with her?

Read The Heart Between Us, which releases March 13, and FIND OUT!

Giveaway:

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**The winner is Linda B.! Please claim your prize within 72 hours or another random winner will be selected.**

About the Author:

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time.

Connect with her through her websiteFacebook, or Twitter.

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs

Genre: Devotional
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: October 2017

I wouldn’t put my name and brave in the same sentence. I’m terrified of everything. Anyone in that boat knows how exhausting that can be. Maybe that’s what drew me to 100 Days to Brave — a desperate desire for change.

Annie F. Downs doesn’t provide a formula or set of rules that suddenly banishes fear and makes us brave. Instead, she spends 100 days reminding us who we are in God and who we are made to be. Equipped with this reinforcement, we can then go out and act bravely in spite of our fear.

Without a doubt, 100 Days to Brave has become my favorite devotional to date. Every entry begins with a Bible verse, followed by the lesson, and ends with a mini-assignment or call-to-action. Whether starting or ending the day with it, the bite-sized entries ensure total absorption without overwhelming.

I still have a long way to go before I can say I’m brave, but I’m making the journey one step at a time. Downs’ devotional helps me to be more deliberate in this walk even as I go about my daily life and routines. I especially love her Christ-filled and Scripture-centered approach as she encourages readers to remain grounded in God’s Word. The author’s honest and humorous voice as she shares personal anecdotes makes her relatable. Her keen insight at times left me to wonder if she possesses a secret peephole into my life to know exactly what I need (not want!) to hear.

A word of advice, keep a notebook and highlighters close by. A day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t marked up or highlighted thoughts and words that encouraged and spoke to me. I recommend 100 Days to Brave to anyone striving to overcome fear and live courageously in Christ.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

Look for Me (D.D. Warren #9) by Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2018

Detective D.D. Warren arrives to a devastating scene. Uniformed officers, police cruisers, and yellow tape cordon off the home of a family of five. Four members have been murdered and the fifth — a sixteen-year-old girl — is missing. Unsure whether the teen narrowly escaped with her life or played a role in the tragedy, D.D. hunts for the girl while trying to piece together the family’s final moments. However, the detective isn’t the only one searching for the truth, so is survivor and vigilante Flora Dane. Both women want justice, but each has a different idea of what it looks like.

Look for Me delivers an adrenaline-charged page turner. Lisa Gardner pens a heart-wrenching tale of mistakes, second chances, and survival. Intricate characters pulled me in and had me vacillating between rooting for their escapes or captures. I did strongly suspect the killer’s identity early on, but the author had me second guessing myself a couple times.

Gardner masterfully toys with the reader’s emotions as D.D. and Flora uncover the events that led to the family’s murder. It felt like watching a car zoom straight for a cliff and being unable to stop it. The reader knows from the start that the family dies but desperately wants to find a way to prevent it.

I highly recommend that Look for Me stay within its intended audience as it contains strong language and mature content. Though it is number nine in the D.D. Warren series, it easily stands alone. To understand Flora Dane, you might want to read Find Her first, but it is not imperative to follow this story. Gardner and D.D.’s fans won’t want to miss this latest installment.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.