Common Grounds by Michelle Levigne

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I have the unique opportunity to review for two websites.  In addition to reviewing on this site, I am going to be reviewing for Classic Romance Revival.  They are a great site also dedicated to clean romance novels.  This is the first review I have done for both sites.  Check them out!

Hannah Blake had finally decided to put her unrequited love for her boss, Xander Finley, on the back burner to get on with her life when she finds a dead body at the office.  As Hannah and Xander work with the police to investigate the “White Rose” serial killer, Hannah finds herself at the center of the investigation when the killer decides Hannah is his new “true love.”

When Hannah’s life is threatened, Xander is forced to fully look at his life and realize what losing Hannah would do to him.  As the killer gets closer, Xander and Hannah get closer but Xander finds it difficult to convince Hannah that his feelings are real and not just a product of the situation.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book.  The character development was great, the plot moved along well and I really liked that the main male character was not drop dead gorgeous. (I mean really, how many times do we meet a Brad Pitt?!) I really liked how the characters had a long relationship with each other and that love had grown with that relationship.  The White Rose killer story line was believable and had me mentally pointing the finger at several different characters as the novel progressed.

This is not the first book in the series and there were several moments where I felt that I needed to have read the first books to really understand what was going on.  I also really struggled with all the minor characters.  There are a lot of minor characters and we are given some background history on almost all of them. I really struggled to keep all of them straight in my head and found myself having to stop to reread portions of the book to try and figure who was who.

The book was left wide open for another in the series and there were minor story lines that flowed throughout the main thread that could easily be picked up in other novels.  I will definitely read the next book in the series.  I love it when the characters I have fallen in love with are in other books. I would recommend reading Common Grounds.

Rating: 1

Available at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

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Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is the first book in a trilogy.  The book takes place in Victorian England but magic exists.  Most of the book is told through letters between two cousins, Celia and Kate.  It took me a minute to get used to the writing style since both characters speak in first person because they are personal letters that are written but once I got used to it the story flowed easily.  Kate is in London partaking of the London Season while Celia is in the country which is why the women are writing to each other.  Right after Kate arrives in London she is mistaken for another character and is almost killed by poisoned chocolate.  Kate and Celia spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out why she was almost poisoned and as they get closer to the answer both their lives are threatened numerous times. During the investigation both women meet men who start to play a large part in the mystery and in their own lives.

I love the friendship the two women share and the bond that exists between them that is evident in their letters.  It is nice to see such a friendship between two strong women.  I also love the women’s attitude toward their family members.  It reminded me of my own crazy family, where an aunt drives everyone nuts but you love them anyway.  The story brings to light the foibles and weaknesses the two women have in addition to their strengths and I couldn’t help but think of the saying that we admire people for their strengths but love them for their weaknesses.  It is the way the women handle their weaknesses, while acknowledging them, that make the characters so endearing (in addition to their great wit).

This is one of my favorite series and I have read it several times.  I highly recommend it the entire series.

Rating: 1

[amazon-product]015205300X[/amazon-product]

Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson

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I recently read The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. I have to admit that I love Christmas stories.  This book wasn’t so much a romance novel as a cute Christmas story.  The author’s style reminded me a lot of the Mitford Series, if you are familiar with those books.

The main character of the novel is the preacher’s wife in a small town  of Christmas Valley that was built around a logging mill.  When the mill shut down the town leaders decided to make the town a Christmas destination as a way to draw tourists to the town to keep it economically alive.  After several years of everything focused on Christmas the members of the town have become a bit disenchanted with the entire Christmas season and solely focused on the consumerism side. Edith, the pastor’s wife and operator of a bed-and-breakfast, is facing her first Christmas without children present and decides to open up the Inn to guests for the first time.  Edith imagines a perfect Christmas with perfect guests and ends up instead with a crazy old lady named Myrtle, a fighting couple, a single mother with daughter and a reclusive old man as guests. To top it all off, a tack 1970’s bus pulls up and the couple who live in it ask if they can park the bus in front of her Inn.  Taking one look at the extremely pregnant wife, Edith agrees to let them park there until they can get the bus fixed. Pretty soon Edith is regretting all her Christmas decisions; the mayor doesn’t like the bus being parked where tourists can see it, Myrtle causes problems with everyone in the town, and Edith’s favorite Christmas angel figurine goes missing.

This story was a feel-good Christmas story.  Some of the plot was pretty predictable but sometimes I need to be reminded of the real reasons for Christmas and what the Christmas spirit really is. I love reading Christmas stories before Christmas but I have learned, the hard way, that I have to double check copyright dates of Christmas stories because publishers have a tendency to re-release the same stories every year with new covers.

The book was a quick read and is available for free at Amazon.com for the Kindle and I recommend it.

Rating: 1

[amazon-product]0800718798[/amazon-product]