Numbers Game by Desiree Holt and Liz Crowe is a heartwarming, uplifting, and steamy romance novel centered around the blossoming relationship between sports journalist Olivia Grant and former star quarterback Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher. The two meet as Hatch takes a coaching job at the university that gave him his start in football, and Olivia rejuvenates her reputation as a journalist by filming a documentary about his return. Their romance holds excitement and promise despite the threat of past trauma, the media, and conniving ex-spouses. As they reemerge into the public eye, Olivia and Hatch come together and find support in one another.
Through Numbers Game, Holt and Crowe create a story with a lasting message—restarting your life and finding joy is possible for anyone, no matter what you’ve gone through in the past. I found Olivia’s experience as a career woman incredibly inspiring and relatable. Despite consistent threats from the powerful men around her in her field, she’s able to persevere and make a name for herself without relying on anyone else’s work or input.
I was pleasantly surprised by the conversations around mental health introduced into the story. With a sport like football, there’s often a stereotype that players and coaches need to be incredibly macho and strong, but Hatch’s character is vulnerable about his struggles in life and encourages mental support for the boys on his team. Topics like addiction and trauma aren’t shied away from, and within their relationship Olivia openly supports Hatch when he opens up to her about his past. I loved reading about their genuine connection and care for one another.
I felt that the attraction between Olivia and Hatch occurred quickly in the story, but their relationship ended up following a healthy and well-paced course. I was wary that the romance might feel like an “instant-love” situation, but Olivia and Hatch had realistic conflicts that made sense for the progression of their relationship and prevented it from feeling too idealized.
Numbers Game is an encouraging story of true love and second chances, and I enjoyed every moment reading it. It’s rare that a romance book is so open to discussing darker topics like addiction and abuse in marriages, but Holt and Crowe managed to create a story that introduces a loving couple embracing their flaws and making the best out of every tough situation. If you want to leave a romance story feeling uplifted, this is the one for you!
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08Z2SHFRK
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Joanne Keder’s novel, Welcome to Piney Falls, is an exhilarating mystery novel that delves into the history of a small town overlooked by most people. That is until Lanie comes along. Follow the stories of two powerful women, connected across time. Fiona Flanagan, a Scottish immigrant, marries and moves to America in the 1900’s. Lanie Anders, a businesswoman turned author, abandons her successful carer in marketing to rediscover herself. Upon her arrival in Piney Falls, she soon realizes is far from normal. She soon finds herself tangled in a curious cult and suspicious suicides.
In this piece, Joanne Keder, clearly demonstrates her knack for witty dialogue and a solid setting. The location is so tangible you’ll hear the sound of the rushing water and smell the Hemlock as you hike up Piney Falls with Lanie. I was also entertained by all the strange and memorable characters. From a nudist named November to a baker who names his pastries after constellations (sounds like they are out of this world, right?) In fact, the author captures their essence in such a lifelike way, you will wish they were real.
While the setting and characters are clearly defined, I did feel that the writing was a bit unclear and long winded in rare moments. The chapters were also surprisingly short, so some scenes felt rushed. It would have been a joy to spend more time sitting in the scenery of this small town. The story is also very plot-focused, as is often the case in a mystery novel. All that said, Keder does have talent when it comes to creating cliff hangers. I breezed through the book in no time at all to find out what happened next.
For the first novel in the series, it does a good job of sticking to the classic mystery novel genre. It starts and ends in a satisfying way and keeps you guessing. The themes of female empowerment and personal growth were also heartwarming and relatable as a reader.
If you want an easy to read mystery novel with quirky characters then Welcome to Piney Falls is the novel for you.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B083FF56FZ
5IVE is a heart-wrenching story that follows the tragic lives of five different women that have experienced abuse, betrayal, deceit, loss, spiritual fallout in their lives. Joined by trouble they become each other’s support system and through this it becomes clear to the reader that, although we encounter some difficult obstacles, we have to be strong to survive. Janine Ellis-Fynn has creatively given her characters a depth that makes them feel real and I was able to easily empathize. I love Diane. Despite going through so much since the age of four, she has a strong will, she is educated, intelligent and I felt like there was still unexplored layers to her. She has the strength of a warrior and comes back stronger every time. Always looking forward to her next move. Her honesty and sincerity is admirable. However, her strength will be tested when she faces her darkest secrets and the demons that have been haunting her all her life.
Sometimes the decisions of the people we love has an over-sized impact on our lives, some of them we will regret, while some of them we will be happy about. What I appreciate most about this book was how well it captured the tension, pain, and drama in a persons life and make it feel real and relatable. This is definitely a character driven story that slowly develops some intriguing characters, and then sets them against some rather tough obstacles that will make you question how much one can endure. Janine Ellis-Fynn also has the unique ability to show readers that, even though tragedy strikes, we can build ourselves back up through the bonds we have, or the bonds we choose to create.
5IVE is an intriguing and insightful story that explores the challenges that women face. It provides a touching reflection on belief and faith, and gives a unique view into the mind of a woman. Anyone looking for a dramatic and engaging book will certainly enjoy this novel. I found it to be engrossing and thought-provoking.
Pages: 197 | ASIN: B08BZYP5SM
Untimely Love follows Jamie as she balances her career and marriage while slowly falling for her sexy and considerate coworker. What served as your inspiration while you wrote this emotional love story?
Writing romance was actually an experiment for me. I wanted to try something different than the Jackie Austin mysteries. For inspiration? While I was balancing my military career and marriage through many physical separations, I can guarantee you that my husband is nothing like Jamie’s snake of a husband! But some of the struggles to get attention felt very close to home, and the events Jamie has to investigate in Virginia Beach for her job were based on real-life actions I encountered. Jealousy is a nasty emotion.
I enjoyed the slow evolution of Jamie’s character. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with her character?
I wanted a strong female character who, although tempted, WANTS to do the right thing. She is dedicated to fulfill her commitments, even if things aren’t going her way. She doesn’t take the easy way out—and that can be costly.
Jamie and Ben’s relationship is something I found to be endearing and thrilling. What were some emotions you often felt yourself gravitating toward while writing their scenes?
I was in love with Ben. He was kind and patient, but also fun loving and spontaneous. I’ve never truly met anyone like him. I guess that’s why we read romance.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Eastover Treasures is a cozy mystery coming out in 2021. The idea came to me when I was at a quilting retreat. It’s been slowly building for years, and I am finally spending time with it. I’m getting great feedback from my writer’s group so I am excited to get it to my editor.
Jamie is settling into her new job in Washington DC. The last thing she needs is a distraction. Then she meets Ben. Charming, considerate, and, yes, sexy. She finds herself thinking about him more often than she should. She struggles to keep her feelings in check while he works his magic to draw her closer. He’s patient, but he can’t be expected to wait forever. Jamie needs time to discover she deserves better than what she has, and Ben must decide if she’s worth the wait.
Carole Penfield gives readers a realistic and interesting piece of historical fiction in The Midwife of Normandy. The story opens with Clare, who finds herself in the cargo hold of a ship along with her family. It is the late 1600’s and they are sneaking out of France to England, where Protestants are not persecuted, and she can continue her midwifery practice. We have no idea what preceded her current state of affairs until we are transported back to her youth and the very first day she received her journal. We learn about Clare’s upbringing and the strong tradition of midwifery in her family, along with the history of disapproving husbands. It is not long before Clare herself is ready for training and eventually ready to take over the practice. It is also not long before she acquires a disapproving husband of her own.
Penfield creates a beautiful and flowing story with elements of history, romance, and story-telling brought together by a colorful cast of characters. Clare is a strong female lead, dealing with issues that are timeless. I love that her family has such a passion for helping other women and will stop at nothing to do so. The history behind this story is interesting and lead me to further research, which is one thing I really love about pieces of historical fiction. I thought the author could have included more realistic dialogue to the times, but I understand that just wasn’t the direction she went with this piece.
Her characters are fantastic and add richness to the story, as all good characters do. There are characters with a dark side and those who even it out with some comedy and levity. Penfield is a self-proclaimed lover of Jane Austen and weaves elements of that authors works into her story. She challenges other Austen fans to find little hidden tidbits throughout the story that are Austen-inspired.
The juxtaposition of a personal story of feminine struggle for power and equality with the story of a religious group struggling with the same issue is an interesting one. These are themes that have manifested throughout history and continue to be real struggles so I thought this book felt modern despite its historical setting.
Penfield did a beautiful job with this story. I was entertained and interested throughout and even learned new history! I look forward to reading more books in this series!
Pages: 325 | ASIN: B01M7Q93OO
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Playing with power can land a girl in all sorts of trouble with her man, as six ladies soon discover. Whether she’s a witch who disobeys the no-magic rule, a fairy making lust cakes, an amateur sorceress casting a spell on her boyfriend, a victim of an enchanted necklace, a revenge fairy messing with a deity, or a pleasure fairy abusing her abilities…
Once they’ve experienced the sensual consequences of playing with their magical powers, can these ladies find their happily for now with a hint of forever? Or have they spoiled their chances?
Publisher’s Note: This steamy anthology contains elements of power exchange.
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