Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

51PbVa9DxuL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Mira
Date: July 28, 2015

Adelia Montforte didn’t want to leave Italy, but with war breaking out and the Jewish people growing ever more afraid for their lives, her parents forced her onto a boat with no luggage, no money, and little hope of ever seeing them again. For anyone this would be terrifying but for a teenager struggling to figure out who she is, it was devastating.

In America, her life is anything but settled. She barely knows the relatives she’s living with and she understands that taking her in wasn’t something they were necessarily happy about doing. But when they go to the shore for the summer, she’s certain her life is going to be absolutely miserable. And then she meets the Connally family and everything shifts. They shouldn’t get along; a Catholic family full of boys and this Jewish girl from another country. But they do. And it fills a hole in Addie’s heart. But war is looming on the horizon and all is not idyllic or peaceful. Addie learns that tragedy can come no matter where you live.

This book embraced me. Yes, I know how that sounds, but that’s the best way to describe it. I didn’t just get pulled into the story. I was surrounded by every part of it and I didn’t want to come up for air.

Overflowing with beautiful scenery and vivid descriptions, Jenoff’s characters brought history into bright, living, focus.  Sometimes the historical aspect can bog down a book and you end up feeling like you’re lost in a textbook of facts and figures. Like real life, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach keeps the people center stage. Jenoff deftly pulls history into the story only long enough for us to anchor where and when it is in time, but then she allows the lives of her characters to take center stage. This made the story richer and fuller while making you feel that these characters must really exist. While reading, I found myself wishing I could know the Connallys and be a part of their family. The Jersey Shore came to life with sounds and smells that you can normally only get from being there.

Pam Jenoff has crafted a story that does far more than just allow you to escape into fiction for a while. It will touch your heart and leave you wanting more.  This book is a summer read that belongs in every beach bag at the shore. Don’t miss it!

 

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Review: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Rayborn

51rq+TsYHFL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_A Curious Beginning by Deanna Rayborn
Genre: Historical
Publisher: NAL
Publish Date: Sep 1, 2015

Veronica Speedwell is an anomaly.  Raised at a time when women are revered for their beauty and not supposed to have exceeding intellect, she continually breaks the mold.  A professional lepidopterist, she’s traveled the world with two spinster ladies and those travels have taught her much.  So when she’s left on her own by her final ‘aunt’s’ passing, she’s not frightened or worried.  Everyone expects that she’ll find a husband and settle down.  But adventure is in her blood.  She has every intention of enjoying her single life.

But then circumstances get a little strange and Veronica finds herself in the company of a distinguished Baron who insists that she’s in danger. An encounter with a burglar at the home she shared with her aunt doesn’t exactly lead her to believe the Baron is right, but it does make her think that going with him is a reasonable option.  And thus begins the biggest adventure Veronica has ever had.  Soon murder, kidnapping and violence become a regular part of her life. The mystery that unfolds before her is one that she cannot ignore.

And thus begins the first of a new series of books from Deanna Rayborn. Packed with everything from light hearted banter to life threatening action, this new heroine is interesting, adventurous and definitely fun to follow. Though there were moments that I felt the author was pushing the current standards of female behavior a little too heavily for it to feel completely comfortable, I was still able to enjoy the way the story unfolded and the growth of Veronica, the main character. In fact, unlike many current novels, by the end you could see a definite development and growth in the main character that was shaped by the circumstances of the story. This was, indeed, fun to experience as we got further and further into things.

The plot was fast paced with twists and turns that were surprising and engaging. At one point, I guessed at what the major reveal of the story was going to be, but it was still done with such flair and sleight of hand by the author that it was entirely entertaining.

All in all, I think Veronica Speedwell could be a fun character to follow through her adventures. As a fan of L.A. Meyers Jacky Faber series, I could almost imagine that Veronica was Jacky all grown up. And that definitely endeared me to the story. In fact, a few times, I felt like Veronica Speedwell was actually Veronica Mars (yes, I loved that show) dropped back in time into a Louisa May Alcott novel.

Twisty historical fun with a well layered mystery, A Curious Beginning was definitely a great start for a new series and I am excited to see what happens in the next adventure.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Radiant Blog Tours: Justified by Varina Denman

23168525Justified by Varina Denman
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: David C. Cook
Release Date: June 1, 2015

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Fawn has a problem. She has many problems actually, not the least of which is her outside of marriage pregnancy in a small town where everyone knows far more than just your name. The father of the baby is generally considered Mr. Popular around town and it’s just assumed that Fawn’s going to marry him. But she knows that isn’t going to happen. And she’s not getting rid of the baby. Her parents have ousted her from home and now she’s scrounging in a house that’s just this side of being condemned on an income that’s barely enough to get groceries. So what could happen next?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Honestly, if it weren’t for Radiant Blog Tours, I doubt I would have even picked it up because it just doesn’t seem my speed. But once I started reading, I really enjoyed it. The small town atmosphere is captured pretty perfectly and Denman does a good job at highlighting each personal struggle along the way. Life in a small town isn’t easy and when there are expectations of your behavior and you miss those expectations, that can be far more than just difficult. It can seem like everything’s ruined. Denman captures the essence of a small town and highlights the quirks in the best way.

The main character is obviously not perfect, but neither are those around her and it helps keeps things fresh.  With some of the storyline, you can see it coming a mile away, but that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of reading. And with some others, the twists are completely unexpected.

All in all, I’m glad I picked up the book and read it. It was enjoyable enough that I passed it along to my 16 year old daughter and she liked it as well.  This one’s a solid read with good values and enough entertainment factor to keep it interesting.

Varina Denman is a native Texan who spent her high school years in a small Texas town. Now she lives near Fort Worth with her husband and her five mostly-grown children.

 Justified is available for purchase here from Amazon.com.

 Note: I received this book as part of the Justified  blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Subscription Box Review: The Handy Box – The not so great review of a not so great box.

This is a really awkward review for me because, well, I don’t have a box to review. Now to be fair, The Handy Box  people did not know that I was going to be writing a review of their box or the way they handle their boxes, so that needs to be said up front. However, I also don’t think I should be required to tell them that I’m going to write a review in order to get good service. I believe that every customer, whether they’re writing a review or not, is capable of sharing their story and should be treated with the utmost in respect and customer service.

However, I signed up for their box about a month before my husband’s birthday. (July 14th to be exact.) I figured that it would mean I’d get something in the mail prior to his birthday, but I honestly didn’t understand a lot of the ins and outs of subscription boxes when I signed up. So when a few weeks went by and I got nothing (no emails or communications and no box) I started getting concerned. I decided to go back and look up when I should expect the first….something from them.

I found out while I was reading (and yes, this is my own fault for not thoroughly reading through the site top to bottom before I subscribed. I made an assumption and it bit me!) that I’d missed the cycle on the July box by four days. Which means that I’d be signed up for the August box. No big deal! I can do August. Except that the cycle for the box takes a couple of weeks from the time that it ends. So, for example, July 10th was the cut off date for the Handy Box orders, but the Handy Box itself won’t ship until the very last week of July. So you should expect your first Handy Box around July 30th time frame. Which means that MY Handy Box that I ordered won’t ship or arrive til the end of August/beginning of September time frame. That’s sort of a problem for me. That’s six weeks from my order being placed before I see anything at all.

Now listen, to be fair, I could handle that. To me, it’s a speedbump in the subscription service and I’m learning how it goes. There will be mistakes.  My own error of reading means I have to wait a bit longer. However, I haven’t gotten any communication at all from The Handy Box either. And that’s a bigger problem for me. (Note my earlier review of Bespoke Post. They managed to communicate to me regularly, let me know when things would be shipping – and even gave me the option of adding an older box or another box into the mix to tide me over until my actual regular box shipped. That’s exemplary service if you ask me.)  I mean I got an email thanking me for my subscription and signing up. But everything went black hole dark from that point on.   Nothing. So that doesn’t sit well with me. Added to the fact that my box isn’t going to ship for SIX FULL WEEKS after I signed up,and now I’m…well…nonplussed with the company at best. But wait – there’s more!

Now I did send an email to them checking on my box. That was 7/28. I wanted to double check and see if my calculations were correct and that it would be close to September before I actually got anything. I also told them if that was the case, please cancel my susbscription. After all, no boxes have been shipped yet and I’m not really jazzed about continuing on with the service. (I’d signed up for a multi-box deal, so it wasn’t a small price tag either.) As of today, I’ve gotten nothing. If I’m reading their website correctly, I CAN’T cancel my subscription – even if I haven’t gotten a box yet. They won’t let me. They’ll cancel AFTER my subscription period ends.  Again – my own error in not reading all the fine print and I get that. However,  since sending that email, I’ve sent two more emails (which opens service ‘tickets’ on the site), gone through the form on their site to contact them, hit them up on Facebook and Twitter and gotten NOTHING. Not a thing. And quite frankly, now I’m just angry.  

Honestly, I hate going to social media to solve a problem. I’ve been on the receiving end of people doing that to companies I work for and I really, sincerely hate it.  I’d rather deal with it through proper channels than air my discontent publicly and become that loud, squeaky, wheel. But this time, the proper channels have afforded me nothing.  So we’ll see if social media or even this blog post help the situation.

I would have been inclined (and even excited) to stay with the company with just a few small changes to the way this happened. Lesson for the company: simple email communication on a regular basis will let a customer know they are still important to you. Even if six weeks is going to happen between their order and their box. Answering their emails takes 2 minutes and it can keep a customer happy. Ignoring a customer completely or believing their emails/questions aren’t important enough to take priority in your day can backfire.

And my lesson here? Make sure you read all the fine print. You could sign up and it could be months before you get a box.

Final thought:  a great idea is just that. The Handy Box is a fabulous idea. But at this point, the execution of the idea hasn’t been exemplary in my experience.  Good communication, building excitement, and keeping it in people’s minds is NOT ‘extra stuff’ it’s vital stuff to maintaining happy customers.

Handy Box team: If you need marketing or social media management, I’m happy to help. It could totally change the way your company runs with regard to your customers – in a GOOD way. But first you’ll have to actually answer my emails.

*Note: I’m reviewing these boxes purely from a subscription standpoint. I PAID for these subscriptions and the companies have no idea that I’m reviewing for them. However, if you know of a box I should try or if you are a company that would like a review of your process/box, you can email me at notesforthesitcom@gmail.com and I’m happy to see what we can make work! 

Subscription Box Review: Bespoke Post

So this subscription box was pretty much what started it all for me. I mean I’ve always loved the idea of them in general but a bad experience with one a year or so ago made me not so interested. The thought of the box was great but when it arrived, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. So I have been hesitant to get into the boxes since then. But with my husband’s birthday coming up, I started really thinking about what might work for him as a gift. This spawned (as I mentioned earlier) from the fact that I get packages often and the others in my house feel neglected. So I thought it might be fun.

When I started looking, I found tons of box options but not as many for guys. Well, let me check that. There were a lot for guys but not as many that I thought he would really enjoy. He’s not a gamer or a nerd really (he just happens to be surrounded by a whole family of geeks and nerds, but that’s a different blog entry) and dollar shave club wouldn’t work for him because he’s grown a beard since leaving the military. (I have since signed him up for a beard club – yes! There’s one of those – and yes, I’ll review it.)

Bespoke Post really spoke to me though.  First, they gave me the option of skipping a box or choosing what theme the box has. I loved that idea! I mean that’s the fun and the danger of these subscription boxes, right? You could end up paying for a box full of stuff you really don’t use, need, want, or even like. But this option struck me fairly. If my choices don’t line up one month with anything he’d like, then we skip it! I love that idea.

The next thing I really appreciated was the choice. There are a variety of options in this club and I wavered back and forth between several before choosing the Frontier box. This is what came in the box:

frontier-family-square-2

(Photo from Bespoke Post website)

This box came pretty quickly. It’s an introductory box so when I ordered from them, I got a box shipped right away instead of needing to wait for the next ‘cycle’ of their deliveries. It was kind of cool because we got a choice for another box shortly after getting this one which worked as a one-two punch for him. (Be aware of that for budgeting purposes though – one-two punch for your bank account if you aren’t ready for it.)

He loved it. The items were very high quality and impressive. This is the most expensive box we’ve subscribed to at $45 a month, but the value is definitely worth it. These are items I could search out on my own but I’d pay more for them and it would take a lot of time and effort to build them into a box/theme the way Bespoke Post has.

The second box that came was the Cheers box.  I chose this one because the others just weren’t really his speed or style. This one, he also loved. He’s to the point now that he gets excited when he sees a box in the mail and that’s really cool for me to see. I love that this is the gift that keeps on giving.

Right now, Bespoke Post gets two thumbs up from me. Their communication is exceptional. They keep me in the loop on where in the cycle we are, what options I have and they manage to keep me excited about what’s coming for my hubby. And I know everything that’s coming, but he doesn’t – so that’s fun too. I’m highly impressed with this subscription box and if you happen to be looking for a gift for that special man in your life, this may be one you’d like to consider.

*Note: I’m reviewing these boxes purely from a subscription standpoint. I PAID for these subscriptions and the companies have no idea that I’m reviewing for them. However, if you know of a box I should try or if you are a company that would like a review of your process/box, you can email me at notesforthesitcom@gmail.com and I’m happy to see what we can make work! 

Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

23355896The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: NAL
Date: July 28, 2015

Lane Bradford grew up in a family that makes the sweeping sagas of oil barons from Dallas look like redneck reality television. Miles upon miles of country estate and horse farms and distilleries make up the holdings of the Bradford family, but the cornerstone of their wealth is based firmly in the Bourbon they create. Only the best comprises the Bradford family Bourbon and everyone knows it. Lane was never meant to be anything more than a spoiled rotten rich kid that didn’t have to take over the family business. Firmly settled in the middle of the pack, he knew that his older brother Edward was the responsible one. You see, Lane only cares about one thing; the lead horticulturist from his family’s estate. Lizzie is a self-made woman who lives and breathes the Bradford fortune every day, but she understands that it’s from the ‘other’ side of the stairs. No matter that she’s in love with Lane, she knows that he’s well out of her reach. It’s not just his status either. The fact that he ended their relationship by getting engaged to a socialite didn’t help much.

So much intrigue and drama make up the Bradford family saga that it’s really hard to give an accurate synopsis without retelling a majority of the book. And let me tell you, this book is setting up for something big. If you like wide, sweeping family tales full of twists, turns and sometimes just plain old evil, you’re going to love this book. Fans of any night time soap opera will devour this book. Easily. It reads like a weekly dose of drama doled out page by page. Once sucked in, you just can’t stop turning the pages to see what happens next.

I’ve not read any of J.R. Ward’s previous work (I’m sure there are gasps of outrage from some out there. The woman is a NYT bestselling author after all) but this one got me hooked. The Bradford family makes the Kardashians look like the Brady Bunch. Old money mixed with new money, horses and bourbon are all splashed across the rolling gorgeous hills of Kentucky in this book. And by the end, you know it’s only the beginning. I finished this one and if I’d been near my computer, I would have been asking the publicist when the next one is ready. I knew when I was reading that the number of pages was pretty thin for where we were in the story. But I still didn’t expect it to end there. And I was ready to read more.

Now for my conservative readers, this is not a Christian book. Don’t even go into with the question of that. It’s rated R and for good reason. There are no punches pulled here with regards to what the family is doing to each other, with each other, and around each other. It’s well and duly noted.

But if those sorts of things don’t bother you and you’re looking for a new series that will leave you begging for more, The Bourbon Kings is definitely the one.

Subscription Boxes: What you didn’t know you need to know.

20131217_112816 (1)So I don’t have a lot of reviews for the subscription boxes yet, but I’ve already learned a few very important things that I thought I should share. There are, of course, the basics. How much is the subscription? Are you locked into a plan? Can you cancel at anytime? What if you don’t want the box? (Some companies allow you to skip a box or choose which box you’d prefer.)

Beyond that, if you’re looking at signing up for one (or more!) subscription boxes, here are a few things you might want to explore.

What are the shipping rates?  You need to find out if the cost of shipping is rolled into the box or if it’s separate. One of the boxes that I signed up for has separate shipping AND it’s located in Canada. That means international shipping rates. It’s a pretty popular box, but when I signed up for three months, it added a pretty hefty price that I wasn’t expecting.  Conversely, several of the boxes that I have signed up to try have the shipping rates rolled in. If they say $19.99 for the month, they mean that’s what you pay. Not $19.99 and then $8 shipping on top. In short, make sure you don’t get sticker shock!

When do they ship?  Each subscription box has a cut off date and a shipping window each month. If you sign up after that date, you could be waiting weeks before your first delivery comes.  This may make you nervous about whether you made a right decision or not. Randomly picking a box full of surprise items can be nerve-wracking for some. Be aware of how long you may be waiting before your box arrives or it could turn the whole process into a stressful situation.

Is there an introductory box?  Some companies have an introductory box available the second you sign up. It’s not really varied too much but you get it pretty much right away. This might mean that you get charged shortly after for your first ‘real’ shipment. It’s kind of cool to receive your box right away, but be aware that it’s not always indicative of what will be in future boxes. It’s designed to draw you in.

Reviews:  If you’re looking for reviews of subscription boxes, you need to be wary. (The irony of me starting a series of articles reviewing subscription boxes does not escape me.) Many subscription services are happy to send out review boxes and will do it willingly, but there’s a catch. That’s not always what comes in other people’s boxes. So if I get a box to review, it might be ‘stacked’ favorably in order to get a good review. Most people will happily give a good review in return for ‘stuff’ – so if you’re reading reviews, make sure you find out if they got the box for free. And if they did, is it the same box you’ll be getting?

This whole subscription box idea is pretty cool and has the potential to be really fun, but if you’re going to jump into it, make sure you’re well informed too. That will definitely help the experience!

 

Subscription Boxes – Are they worth it?

1mUxhz (1)Recently I decided to try something different with my gift giving. Subscription boxes.

You see, at my house, I get books in the mail all the time. Sometimes several a day. And my family thinks that’s cool, but that also means Mom is the only one that gets packages to open and at one point, my husband said something along the lines of “You’re the only one that gets the fun of opening those.”  Don’t get me wrong, I would happily let anyone else in my house open the books, but it’s not the same. They know what’s inside and they know it’s not actually for them. That takes a bit of the fun away.

But then the subscription box thing hit and now….there’s a world of possibility inside each of those. I decided my husband’s birthday is going to be something different this year. So I’ve signed him up for some packages to come every month. And then I tried a couple for me.  And now I’m thinking I might be mildly addicted. But still – this could turn out interesting. I’ve decided to start reviewing the boxes we’re trying. :) Hey, I review books, movies, tv shows and products – why not subscription boxes?

Now I do have a confession to make. I tried a subscription box about a year ago that I absolutely hated. And it shocked me. It was a BOOK BOX. And I hated it. It was $50 a quarter (not a month) and it was supposed to come filled to the brim with things that book lovers would enjoy. It was from Book Riot. And though it was a lot of fun to see what was packed inside, it didn’t feel like $50 worth of stuff in every box. And some of the things were just too…not really exciting for me. A mug with banned book titles. A book from some author I haven’t heard from. It just wasn’t exciting and it got to the point that when it showed up, I wouldn’t even open it right away and I’d figuratively smack my forehead because I’d forgotten to cancel. So I wasn’t really all that interested in the subscription box craze. But then I saw some fun reviews and things I thought my family would like – so I’ve decided to give it another go.

So right now we’re subscribed to Bespoke Post (for him), Ipsy, Julep (both for me), Nerdblock (family) and I signed my son up for BrickLoot. I also just added a subscription for The Handy Box and Dollar Beard Club for hubby. It sounds like a lot, but on some of them, I got freebies for the first one, or I signed up for three months at a time – just to see how they are. And Bespoke Post allows me to skip any box I’m not interested in, so that’s cool!

As we start unboxing these subscriptions, I’ll put together some reviews and let you guys know what I think. And if you have a subscription box you’re a part of, let me know. Maybe I’ll give that a whirl – or a review!

Do you have a ministry rate?

mhGxHAi (1)I’m going to say something controversial here. It may bother some people but it’s something that’s been on my heart for a while. Over the course of my business, I’ve worked with a variety of groups from ministries to Forbes 500 corporations. And there’s something that happens within the Christian realm that you really don’t see elsewhere. They want a deal. Now not all of them across the board and it’s not always huge, but it’s there. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been told because I want to work for a ministry, I need to lower my rates. But not my service. These ministries want my very best (as they should) but because they’re working for the Lord, I should expect not to get paid what I’m worth.  Something about that equation doesn’t sit quite right with me.

Now listen,  everyone wants a deal. I get that. But not everyone wants a deal because it’s my duty to God as a Christian to give it to them.

Whoa. Yeah. I said that.

I’ve been in business meetings where I’ve seen highly professional people get cut to the quick by ministry leaders because “We’re not going to pay that. Don’t you know we’re a ministry?” Ouch! So because you serve the Lord, I get paid less? That doesn’t seem quite right and it’s always been something that bothered me.

This morning, in my reading, I came across a story of King David. He’d messed up big time and the Lord was calling him to penance for it. He needed to go build an altar and sacrifice and when he found the place, the man who owned it basically said, “You’re the King! Take it!” But David refused. He said ” No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24)  That, right there, is powerful stuff. David was the King. He could have taken it without a second thought. The man offered. But David knew in his heart that it wouldn’t be right.

See, the Lord isn’t going to let His people, who are faithful to Him, go without being paid what’s right. I believe that. Your ministry may be wonderful and in need. I get that. I do offer some special rates when I feel led. That’s the key though. Because it’s between God and me. Not me and you. My faith doesn’t get bigger or stronger by working for you at a lower price just because your ministry is awesome.  I’m all about getting a deal and doing what’s right. I’m not all about using someone’s faith or your ministry to take well earned money from someone’s pocket.

And here’s something important for me to note. Negotiating a fair price is far different than demanding a lower price. There’s a give and take. There’s bartering and understanding. But I won’t negotiate if I feel that my value is being underestimated. Or if it’s well respected but there’s a flat out refusal to pay fair value. That’s not negotiation. It’s not honorable. And it shouldn’t happen.

Oh now – if my pastor is reading this, he’s probably in a panic. I volunteer my services for my church’s social media, and consulting for the business side of things. But I chose to do that. I volunteer it. I wasn’t asked to do it for free. My pastor and I have an understanding. I go to a new church that’s just starting out and I feel passionate about it. God led me to volunteer those services and my work is for Him. Not necessarily Compassion Church. (Am I getting too confusing here? I hope not.) God gives me very direct leading in what I’m supposed to do with my talents. Sometimes it’s working on a non-Christian project. (I know – I’m getting into really dicey territory here aren’t I?) Sometimes I volunteer my services. Sometimes I do offer a better rate than I normally would. But sometimes, my family needs that money that a ministry doesn’t think they should pay. That’s important to note.

Listen, I’m not trying to slam anyone here. When I read the verse this morning, it just became clear to me. I believe one of the reasons that Christian work (or the Christian label) has struggled to get recognition as quality work is because we don’t want to compensate like other businesses do. The work isn’t going to be as good as that of secular organizations because you’d never see Nike say to a marketing director, “We are Nike. Aren’t you  happy to work for us? We’ll give you half.”  No way. Why would someone put in quality work if that company isn’t willing to pay? It doesn’t work that way in the business world and I don’t think it should work that way in ministry.

I believe that our God is the father of creativity and excellence. Our work should shine apart from that of the world. We’ve been given our talents, our direction, and our plan directly from the creator of the universe. But I don’t think we’ll ever truly be able to shine in the world as long as we expect the highest caliber of work at yard sale prices.

Review: Five Days in Skye for Radiant Blog Tours

9780781413077_3DFive Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Romance
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: June 10, 2013

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s d/reams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

With a little bit of tour guide, a lot of romance, and some fun, Carla Laureano has created a great love story that will appeal to readers of all ages. I loved how these characters crossed paths and circled each other for a bit before anything could actually work out. It was a great deal of fun watching this play out. Laureano has a grace and style in her writing that cut to the core of the humanity for each character. Flaws, difficulties, wrong turns – her characters make many of the same choices that we do in our own lives and like us, her characters are not without consequences to their actions.

I really enjoyed the way that this story flowed. It drew me in from the beginning and kept me engaged right up until the very end. There were fun lighthearted moments, but it still resonated with depth and truth that can only come from an author who really understands her audience.

If you haven’t yet read this award winning book, there’s no time like the present. This one should be in the top on every romance list. It’s that good!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Five Days in Skye is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Note: I received this book as part of the Five Days in Skye  blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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