Enchanted April (1991)

Drama Film

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Enchanted April (1991)
Rated PG

4 Stars

Description (from the DVD case): Two proper Englishwomen, determined to get away from their drab lives and inattentive husbands, find paradise in the serene countryside of the Italian Riviera in this enchanting adventure starring Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson. When the pair rent a magnificent villa for a month, they share expenses with two unlikely companions: an austere widow and a bored socialite. At first, personalities clash, but the hideaway holds a special magic that soon sparks friendships and reminds the women of ways to live and love that have long eluded them.

My thoughts: Oh, what a lovely dramedy! Gently paced. Subtle and insightful here. Quirky and chuckle-worthy there. Deeply felt, beautifully realized.

My only real quibble with the story is that, between the novel and the film, I’m still not fully persuaded that the changes these ladies and their lovies experience in their Italian heaven will last past their holiday.

Nonetheless, I will say that something about actually seeing the characters this time, having the chance to look into their eyes, leaves me with a little more hope on that practical side than the book did. Besides, I’m also fine with setting practicality aside to bask in the afterglow of tender enchantment here. I’d enjoy watching this film again.

My corresponding reading: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

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Jhoi: Blending Life With Story

Woman's hand writing in a notebook

Here’s a little about one of my love story collections, Jhoi

Illustration of a vintage stand-up microphone against a glassy blue background

World of the Innocent

The friendship between two real-life performing artists inspired me to write this contemporary love story, featuring a poetic young woman named Jhoi.

Illustration of a silvery Christmas star against a glassy blue background

World of Joy

Toward the end of 2022, I had the sudden desire to write a Christmas romance. Although it’d been about eleven years since I originally wrote World of the Innocent, Jhoi came back to me as the perfect candidate in need of a holiday getaway.

Two-book boxed set featuring a woman with long brown hair against a glassy blue background


Each of the two stories about Jhoi can stand alone. Still, readers may want to see what love looks like for her in very different seasons of her life.

Be sure to check out these love stories!

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Jhoi by Nadine C. Keels

Sweet Contemporary Love Stories
5 Stars
“Just WOW. This book totally blew me away. It’s in my top five of ‘the most romantic books I’ve ever read.’” ~Valerie’s Musings on World of the Innocent
“Keels perfectly captures what it looks like to find true love. A love with substance…” ~Lights in a Dark World on World of the Innocent

Blue boxed set of two books, with a cover showing a woman with long brown hairFriendship. Belief. Love. And Jhoi.

World of the Innocent
A sweet contemporary love story, based on true events

“Are you ready to love this young man?”
Jhoi: She’s poetic. She’s guarded. And she couldn’t imagine having much to do with a guy like Marcas. Sure, Marcas is a brilliant fellow artist, admired by plenty of fans. But he’s so remarkably…strange.

Still, Marcas touches Jhoi’s soul. And through the counsel of a shrewd old neighbor, Jhoi will discover a link between intimate friendship and becoming a steward of an era.

World of Joy
A sweet small-town romance

’Tis her season to reclaim her name.
Jhoi: She’s a community youth advocate and also a poet-turned-novelist. For her latest writerly project, she and two fellow authors are releasing an assorted collection of romantic comedies. Romances set during the holidays.

When the project leads to a timely opportunity for Jhoi, she takes it—the kind of Christmas getaway that others would dream of.

Yet, Jhoi worries that this holiday experience may actually be too perfect for her. And if she doesn’t figure out her fear, she could wind up not only jarring herself out of this dream but hurting more than one heart in the process.

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Go to World of the Innocent page Go to World of Joy page

Notes on the Books’ Content

No profanity. If a character does curse, their specific words aren’t written out.
Kissing but no sex scenes.
Whenever there’s violence, it isn’t gratuitous.
Any substance use is mild or brief.

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Making Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove

Suspense Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

4 Stars

Book cover shows a serious light-skinned African American man with blue eyes above a flat southern landscape with treesMaking Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: At his grandfather’s deathbed, Isaac Hunt learns his parents aren’t really his parents. Reeling from betrayal and armed with only his birth mother’s name and the city where she last lived, Isaac goes in search of her and the truth about his past. His odyssey takes him deep into the south, where racism still rules the small town of his birth—and where more than one person does not want Isaac to uncover the truth about who he is.

My thoughts: While I’ve read romance novellas by Hargrove before, it was someone else’s inquiry about ChristFic suspense from diverse authors that prompted me to finally start the Isaac Hunt series.

This novel isn’t suspense in the sense of fast pacing or high action. Most of the story is rather contemplative, taking its time much like a literary novel. But the dark crime thread running through it does eventually reach a critical point for Isaac.

I don’t always get through books that take longer than about two chapters to give me more than a cursory sense of what’s going on and exactly why it matters. Although I felt like this novel spent a fairly significant amount of time speaking in riddles, something simmering, sometimes rumbling, just beneath the surface compelled me to keep reading. That and this author’s way with words, as I really like sharp phrasing and stirring descriptions that aren’t predictable for me.

There’s a scene where one of the villains sits and monologues to himself for a while, which can feel like a contrived way to reveal information to the reader. But that aside, this story’s evil characters aren’t caricatures. As for the emotion through the read, though I think the effect of Isaac’s tears could have been stronger if he had them in fewer scenes, I found the overall emotional development to be compelling.

I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Note to my blog readers: While I read an earlier edition of this book where the N-word doesn’t appear, in the latest edition, the author includes a heads-up about her use of the slur. I understand various Black writers’ choices about whether or not they use the word in their works, and Hargrove also touched on the issue in her guest post on my blog some years ago.

Isaac Hunt Series

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