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.

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham

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Genre: Romance
Publisher: Woven Word Publishing
Publication Date: April 2017

Single mom Eisley Barrett has no room for romance. She’s learned the hard way that HEA (Happily Ever After) only exists in fiction or chocolate. When she travels to England in hopes of unearthing a centuries-old family mystery, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with the uptight, cynical actor who is as known for his movies as for his less-than-stellar past.

Wes Harrison would give anything for a clean slate, but some sins only God can forgive. Experience has taught him to be wary, especially of women, so when Eisley pops into his family’s life, he determines to expose her ulterior motives before she can hurt the ones he loves. However, her kind and straightforward personality soon win him over and Wes finds himself wishing for the second chance he hasn’t dared hope for.

Just the Way You Are can only be described as a large cup of hot chocolate topped with laughter and sprinkled with love. Pepper Basham infuses the pages with her unique humor and witty banter that keeps the reader in stitches all the while exploring the theme that God loves us just the way we are.

Eisley blurts out what most of us wish we had the guts to say or only come up with once the moment has passed. Anyone who has been afraid to love will relate to her, though she plunges in hastily. The Harrison family also warmed up to her extremely fast. While I believed it coming from Mr. H. (Wes’ father) who played matchmaker, Mrs. Harrison and Wes joined the bandwagon all too soon, especially given past experiences. Eisley’s family is downright comical and a pleasure to read. I really enjoyed the hint of mystery in the form of her ancestor’s story.

Without a doubt, Basham can write chemistry-laden kissing scenes that steal one’s breath. That being said, considering the characters aren’t married and that they both come from broken pasts, some of the scenes were too steamy and even unwise on the characters’ parts. I loved the concept of Wes being a new creation determined to pursue God’s ideal for us, but the hot and heavy kisses made me question just how far in the past were his womanizing ways. The same occurred with Eisley who didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes she made with her ex-husband but then moves too quickly and too far with Wes. Of course, being a book, everything works out.

 As usual, Basham does not disappoint in the settings department. Split between England and the Blue Ridge Mountains, I couldn’t get enough of the fascinating and beautiful cultures. While I haven’t been to North Carolina, I know what it’s like to be a European freshly landed in the U.S. I could relate (and chuckled multiple times) as Wes tackled his way into a new, and sometimes confusing, culture.

If you like romantic stories that make you laugh, you’ll want to grab a copy of Just the Way You Are. I am once again counting the days until Basham’s next book releases.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

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The Memory of You by Catherine West

Genre: Romance, Drama
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 2017

Thirteen years ago, Natalie Mitchell’s life tailspinned when her twin sister died. That day, she not only lost her other half and best friend but also a part of herself. Since then, she has stayed away from her family’s winery, but when her grandfather suffers from a heart attack, Natalie has no choice but to return to Sonoma. With Maoilios failing and her father pushing to shut it down, Natalie must decide the fate of her family’s business and legacy, all the while fighting the nightmares of that horrible summer that have returned with a vengeance.

As the vintner on Maoilios, Tanner Collins wants nothing more than to get the winery back on its feet after a bad season, but Natalie’s arrival could render all his attempts in vain. Even though he’s battling his own issues on the homefront, Tanner is determined to prove to his childhood friend that they have something worth saving. However, the woman who now stands before him is nothing like the girl he remembers.

I only discovered Catherine West a few months ago. As with most new-to-me authors, I hesitated investing time and money on an author I didn’t know. I worried for nothing. I love the two books I’ve read so far.

The Memory of You delivers a heart-wrenching story that reaches the deepest parts of one’s soul. West tackles deep subjects while gently nudging the characters, and ultimately her readers, toward the Giver of hope.

Raw and realistic characters drew me in. Even though I hadn’t experienced some of the struggles they endured, I could connect with them. I came to feel their sorrows and joys, their failures and triumphs in my own skin. This rang true all the way from the hero and heroine to the secondary cast that surrounded them. Watching Tanner and Natalie reconnect after years and fall in love was pure delight.

The heroine wears a necklace with a zodiac charm which surprised me because it involves the study of astrology and is not consistent with the Biblical values otherwise promoted in the story.

The setting truly pops to life in this book and stuck with me long after I finished, giving me a severe case of book hangover. I longed to return to the wide expanse of vine-laden land and inhale the grape-scented air.

I strongly recommend The Memory of You to readers looking for a redemptive story with romance and family, and a book that doesn’t shy away from tackling the hard and messy issues in life.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Oiginally posted on Radiant Lit.

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