A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Bling! Romance
Publication Date: May 2017

Ana Brassfield knows she’ll never be a prima ballerina. Instead, she focuses on goals within her reach, like dancing at the Metropolitan Opera House and her pending wedding to landscape architect, Peter Engberg. When renowned German dancer Claus Gert, the man who shattered her heart years earlier, arrives in Georgia determined to win her back, her carefully laid-out plans crumble. Especially after Peter, witnesses a kiss between Ana and Claus.

Her engagement now broken, Ana moves to Germany to live with Claus and hopefully salvage her remaining dream — dancing at the Met. Burdened by the memory of Claus’ late wife, her still burning feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company could prove to be Ana’s undoing as she begins to discover that achieving everything she dreamed of might not provide the happiness she longs for.

In A Season to Dance, Patricia Beal pens a story of forgiveness and second chances that left me extremely conflicted. The author possesses a unique and captivating voice that keeps the reader flipping pages. Beal brings the ballet scenes to life in an exquisite manner that has everyone who ever dreamed of being a ballerina living vicariously through Ana. The vivid setting, which isn’t limited to one city or continent, comes to life like a colorful set that invites the reader to step in and experience it for him/herself. I just wish I could have liked the characters.

Ana comes across as selfish and wishy-washy. The way she flitted back and forth between Peter and Claus had me questioning the sincerity of her feelings. She would drop one and pick up the other within 24 hours, making it look more like fear of being alone than real love. Sadly, the men weren’t any better. While Peter’s decision to break off the engagement after observing the kiss between his fiancée and Claus made sense, his consequent actions should have been a major red flag for Ana. Marriage to a man who responds the way he did to being hurt, is only going to bring more pain and trouble in the long run. As far as Claus, I don’t want to give away spoilers, but he proved equally disappointing. This novel is one of those rare times I would have preferred no romantic pairing in the end. Ana needed to find herself first — without a man.

The faith thread also lacked strength. It felt like something Ana picked up simply because it fell in her lap multiple times rather than a sincere interest and belief. Even by the end, her faith only appeared when convenient around her busy life and not as a priority. This being said, I liked the conversation between Ana and a woman on a bench because the author didn’t shrink from asking some tough questions — ones that many, if not all of us, have struggled with at one point or another.

Ultimately, if you love ballet and want a read that offers memorable settings and a fresh voice, A Season to Dance could be just the ticket. However, if you’re looking for an inspiring romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

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With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Publication Date: May 2017

Sloane Bradley will do anything to avoid the limelight. With a past she wants securely out of the present and an inability to push through her post-traumatic stress disorder, Sloane finds comfort and a sense of accomplishment running a food blog from the privacy of her home. But when holding on to her work-at-home job requires her to leave the safe confines of her walls to help launch the new restaurant for renowned chef Graham Cooper Jr., she’ll discover more than her job is a stake. Behind his worldly past, family wealth, and good looks, Sloane uncovers a broken man who, like her, longs for healing and redemption.

With No Reservations combines two of my favorite things — food and romance! Laurie Tomlinson pens a decadent tale of love, hope, and redemption in her debut novel. Flawed yet relatable characters kept me invested in their journey. Sloane displayed the perfect balance of strength and vulnerability, and I rooted for her not only to find love but to overcome her past.

Though tackling deep subjects and even deeper hurts, Tomlinson managed to keep the novel light. A cute story in the vein of Hallmark movies, I would recommend With No Reservations to romance readers searching for a quick and sweet read.

A word of advice, stay away from the kitchen while reading this. The mouth-watering dishes and heavenly aromas wafting from the pages might tempt you to eat your way through the story.

Review copy provided by the author. Thank you!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

Where There’s Smoke (Montana Fire #1) by Susan May Warren

Genre: Romance
Publisher: SDG Publishing
Publication Date: May 2016

In a world of men, renowned smokejumper Kate Burns’ life has revolved around proving she is just as good if not better than her male counterparts. No risk is too great to accomplish the job and silence the naysayers. However, she faces one problem — Kate fears fire.

Smokejumper supervisor Jed Ransom’s calm, level-headed personality clashes with Kate’s impulsiveness. Of course, she’d be the only woman he’s ever loved and the one he hasn’t been able to forget even after years apart.

When a wildfire ravages the Montana Mountains, Kate and Jed must put aside the past and their differences to train a new team of jumpers. With the discovery that they have an arsonist on the loose — one that’s targeting their team — it becomes evident that Kate and Jed may not come out of this one unscathed.

Susan May Warren transports readers to the rugged Montana landscape in Where There’s Smoke. The author brings to life the breath-taking beauty of nature and the devastation of fire. Readers should prepare to smell smoke everywhere they turn. I especially enjoyed learning about smokejumpers and seeing some of the struggles and perils that come with the job.

For the most part, Jed and Kate were sympathetic characters I could root for, though Kate was a bit of a jerk toward Jed a few times. The heroine’s heart-wrenching struggles with her father left me wishing they could have sorted out their differences before his death. I know, I know, then we wouldn’t have had a story.

Based on comments and reviews I’ve read, it seems that some of the characters have previously appeared in other Warren novels. Though I have not read the books in question, I didn’t have a problem following this story. I may have missed fun-to-know, secondary character backstories, but I didn’t miss any crucial information.

I would recommend Where There’s Smoke to Warren’s fans and romantic suspense readers.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

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.

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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.