Character Spotlight: Liz Johnson’s Justin and Natalie

About the Story:

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

Meet Natalie

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Jessica Chastain

Physical description: She’s a petite redhead with all the pale features of her Irish heritage. She has blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across her nose.

Age: 32

Loves: She’s exceptional at keeping track of the details and pleasing people. But what she really loves is verbally sparing with Justin, a pastime that she’s missed terribly in the last fifteen years.

Hates: Gossip—especially when she’s the one being gossiped about. And she hates being the center of attention.

Favorite flower: Purple orchids

Favorite song: One that Justin wrote called “On This Shore.”

Favorite cake: Caden’s lemon cake with raspberry filling and whipped lemon frosting.

Biggest struggle: She’s not always honest with herself about what she wants, and she struggles to tell her fiancée the truth about why she left PEI and never wanted to go back.

Background: She’s an only child with a childhood that was filled with pain and neglect. She longs to forget the past, but is stuck reliving it upon her return to PEI.

Work: She’s the concierge at a ritzy hotel in Nashville, serving many of Music City’s elite.

Meet Justin

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Christian Kane

Physical description: Justin is a stocky dairy farmer. He has black hair that he wears in a ponytail. He always keeps his sideburns long too. His eyes are a piercing blue, and he perpetually has a five-o’clock shadow.

Age: 33

Loves: He’s always dreamed of having a music career, but he’s settled for playing shows in his small PEI hometown. He spends his free time writing songs in his favorite place, an old lighthouse on his family’s property.

Hates: He hates watching Natalie pretend to be someone she’s not. And he hates having to pretend not to care about her while she’s engaged to another man.

Favorite song: “Good-bye, girl,” a song he wrote after Natalie left. It’s become a local favorite and reminds him how much she’s hurt him, and somehow that pain is better than letting her memory go.

Favorite cake: The same as Natalie’s. (But, really, he’s not picky about cake.)

Biggest struggle: He can’t seem to forgive Natalie for leaving the island and him behind.  

Background: Justin is the oldest of three siblings. When his father passed away, he took responsibility for his family’s dairy farm, which he runs with his mom’s help.

Work: Early morning chores on the farm, and now he’s agreed to fix up the old barn on his property for Natalie’s wedding.

About the Author:

By day Liz Johnson is the marketing director for a radio network. She finds time to write late at night and is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Liz makes her home in Tucson, AZ, where she enjoys theater, exploring local history, and doting on her nieces and nephews. She loves stories of true love with happy endings.

Connect with Liz through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Rescue Me (Montana Rescue #2) by Susan May Warren

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: January 2017

Deputy Sam Brooks doesn’t do anything half way — not his job with the sheriff’s department, his liaison position with PEAK Rescue, or his relationship with Sierra Rose. After all, safe, dependable and structured Sierra is perfect for him, and he’ll do anything to prove it to her, including help lead a church youth event with her polar-opposite sister.

Willow has loved Sam for as long as she can remember, but after her sister’s recent heartbreak, Sierra deserves a HEA (happily-ever-after) and Sam can give it to her. Not to mention, Willow has more important things to focus on than the handsome deputy, like landing the youth pastor job at her church. But when an outing to the Glacier National Park goes horribly wrong, more than just hearts are at stake. Sam and Willow must join forces to get the teenagers and themselves out alive.

Susan May Warren’s Rescue Me delivers an exhilarating and nail-biting journey of survival. Days after closing the book, I still felt the rain pelting my skin and the cold that burrowed deep in my bones. Warren masterfully brought the setting to life from the towering trees, freezing water, and narrow ledges. I endured the harrowing trek through the Glacier wilderness right alongside Sam, Willow, and the teens.

Sam is every bit the swoony hero even if a bit dumb for not seeing what — or should I say who? — was right under his nose all along. Despite having very little in common with Willow, I could root for her and loved the way she cared for and interacted with the youth.

The hospital scene toward the beginning seemed a bit unrealistic and farfetched. I can’t give away details because … you just have to read it. But it makes one protagonist appear stupid and the other act out of character given claims that follow later. The novel also ends with a few too many pairings to be believable, as though the author tied everything up with a neat little bow. Still, Rescue Me is one of the most enjoyable Warren novels I’ve read in recent years. I haven’t devoured one of her stories so quickly since Take a Chance on Me.

New developments occur in the hunt for Ian’s missing niece. While this book could technically stand alone, Ian and Sierra’s story and their search for his niece does arc throughout all we’ve seen in the series to date, so I would advise starting with the prequel novella (which is free!) and book one. I recommend the Montana Rescue series to romance and Warren fans alike.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

Save

When Tides Turn (Waves of Freedom #3) by Sarah Sundin

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: March 2016

Tired of being viewed as just a pretty face, Quintessa Beaumont enlists in the Navy’s newly formed WAVES program for women. Not only will it aid in the war effort, it will give her the chance to prove she can also be useful. However, in her pursuit of demonstrating she can contribute more than beauty, Tessa becomes embroiled in a case that reeks of sabotage and spies.

No-nonsense Lt. Dan Avery longs for the sea, instead he’s stuck behind a desk. But he’ll endure anything to make admiral, including hold on to his land legs a while longer and swear off love. So he’s less than thrilled when vivacious, fun-loving Tessa bursts onto his radar. She’s exactly the kind of distraction his mentor has warned him about, and Dan is determined to keep her far away.

Sarah Sundin does it again! When Tides Turn hits the trifecta with a beautifully-blended story of love, intrigue, and faith. Well-researched history, heart-warming characters, and a historical setting that pops to life make this novel impossible to set down.

Despite my immense love for Jim Avery (Through Waters Deep), I think his no-nonsense brother has taken his place as my favorite hero in the Waves of Freedom series. I don’t want to give anything away, but just wait until the scene in which Dan gives Tessa one of the sweetest gifts ever. I’m pretty sure I melted into a puddle right then and there.

As always, the characters are exquisitely developed as they face life and faith obstacles many of us can relate to. Sundin has a knack for understanding and addressing the human psyche. Though Tessa and I are night and day different, I could connect with her and found I, too, struggle with a lot of her fears and worries. It was a reminder that despite people’s differences; we deal with a lot of the same issues.

I strongly recommend When Tides Turn to anyone looking for a great historical romance with a hint of mystery. If you haven’t read the first two installments, I encourage you to start there, not because they are imperative to follow this book, but because the series is too good to miss.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

Free Friday: At Bluebonnet Lake by Amanda Cabot

At Bluebonnet Lake (Texas Crossroads Book 1) by Amanda Cabot

Marketing maven Kate Sherwood’s world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is slow down to a crawl at Rainbow’s End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. But she cannot deny her ailing grandmother’s request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week (albeit fifty years ago). There Kate meets Greg Vange, the resort’s handyman. But there’s more to Greg than meets the eye–billions more, in fact, as he recently sold his successful software company and is at the resort in search of what’s next for his life.

Kate isn’t looking for romance, but she can’t deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. She even starts to see potential in the rundown resort. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate’s long-sought promotion take her back to the big city?

**Disclaimer: Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow me to read every book I share on Free Friday, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all be good. But I’ll do my best to find authors/books I know, know of, or sound good. If I have read it, I’ll make sure to include the link to my review as well.