Books, Fiction

A Bittersweet Moment by Vanessa Riley

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.

A Bittersweet Moment by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Theodosia aspires to have her own business someday, selling choice flowers to perfumers, but she wants to learn better diction first. Ewan, the second son of an abusive earl, agrees to help Theo while she encourages him in his own dream: to earn his independence with a living as a playwright. But when Theo and Ewan begin falling for each other, their already unusual arrangement becomes even more precarious in A Bittersweet Moment by author Vanessa Riley.

So. While anticipating reading a Regency romance, The Bittersweet Bride, I came across this little prequel number and decided to read it first.

This is one of the authors whose books I dive into with or without at least skimming the book blurb beforehand, so it was an extra treat for me to find out Ewan is a writer. I mean, sensing the agony he feels in the midst of “the odor of the death of words”–you have me right there, from the first page, Mr. Fitzwilliam. Then add to that his sentiment regarding the ignorant way that “men of little vision deal with paper.” Good gracious, I love reading about writers.

Even with her determination, her feisty streak, and her reluctance to trust, Theo isn’t all sharp edges, which is a plus. Her meeting Ewan isn’t an insta-love connection, though when their affection for each other does come up, it does so suddenly, and the descriptions and declarations of love become pretty excessive from there.

Nevertheless, the vocational and romantic plight of these characters has whetted my appetite the more for the related novel.

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Arts and Entertainment, Books

Jazzy Girl by C.L. Wells

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. I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Jazzy Girl by C.L. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Or was there something real between them? How could she not trust him on one side, but want to trust him with everything on the other?

Sherice has become more or less content with her life in hiding, trusting no one except Jazz, her Labrador. But a nosy (and rather good-looking) man next door, Canden, begins to poke holes in the walls of privacy around Sherice’s life—and her heart. She must soon decide whether letting Canden in would be worth endangering them both in Jazzy Girl by author C.L. Wells.

The first novelette I read by this author was a romantic comedy, That’s How She Rolls, so I was curious about this romantic suspense read. I like how, even with its faith theme, the story doesn’t provide easy, pat answers for all the tough issues in Sherice’s life, nor does the story simply remain silent in those areas, as if issues and questions like that don’t exist.

Even for a short and sweet read, I found some parts of this one to be a little slow. But I gained appreciation for Sherice’s character the more her story unfolded, and I’ll admit the very end of the book sent a rush of tears to my eyes. I’d recommend this novelette to fellow fans of romantic suspense.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Films, Race

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

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.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) from Columbia Pictures
Not Rated. (Contains some mildly colorful language, some discussion of sex.) Drama, Comedy, African American Actors/Issues, Romance
2 Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn)

Description (from the film case): Crusading newspaper publisher Matt Drayton’s (Spencer Tracy) liberal principles are put to the test when his daughter, Joey (Katharine Houghton), announces her engagement to John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), an internationally renowned African-American physician. While Matt’s wife Christina (Katharine Hepburn) readily accepts Joey’s decision, Matt intends to withhold his consent…

My thoughts:  “We told her it was wrong to believe that the white people were somehow essentially superior to the black people… That’s what we said. And when we said it, we did not add, ‘But don’t ever fall in love with a colored man.'”

Oh, I’ve seen Katharine Hepburn in fine form before, but never like this. And Spencer Tracy is just excellent here. The fact that he and everyone else involved in the film knew that he was dying, and what that must have cost them, makes his performance even more excellent, from its humor to its poignancy. I can’t help but to think Matt’s final words about/to Christina are as much a message from Spencer to Katharine as anything.

Sidney Poitier does just enough to make you feel as uncomfortable as John feels, and whether or not you fully agree with John Wade Prentice, he commands respect. What courage it must have taken to make such a controversial film at this period in American history, the year before Dr. King’s assassination, and around the time when marriage between whites and non-whites was still illegal in several U.S. states. It’s an exploration of what you’ll do when you come face to face with your principles and theories, what you’ll do about what you said. Although most of the “arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them,” the actors still make this relevant story resonate.

And the film is so positively 60s! The music, the clothing, the hairdos, the funny-looking sets, the dancing! I wasn’t expecting either my laughter or my tears, but this film got some of both out of me.

Must watch it again.

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Authors, Books, Fiction

Home at Last by Deborah Raney

romance-books-2 nadine keels

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. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Four Silver Stars

Home at LastHome At Last by Deborah Raney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Link Whitman doesn’t exactly find an easy way into the good graces of Shayla Michaels after a near-tragic incident with Link’s truck on an icy road. But that’s only the tip of an iceberg of obstacles that may prevent a friendship–and something more–between this white man and mixed race woman in Home at Last, a novel by author Deborah Raney.

Yes, I jumped into this series with the final book, without having read the preceding ones. But despite my bit of trouble keeping all of the Whitman family names straight a couple times, this last Chicory Inn novel didn’t leave me feeling lost.

In fact, I was pulled right into the novel early, and overall, I remained quite engaged along the way. The story brings together its cast of very human characters to tackle real questions concerning love, friendship, family, race relations, prejudice, faith, and how we handle our fears and dreams.

I’ll admit that I was more than halfway through the book before I got a convincing feel for the romance. For much of the story, it seems the development of Link and Shayla’s relationship is strongly focused on the surrounding issues that can keep them apart without enough focus on building the chemistry between them, in real time. It’s almost as if the romance is mostly happening in the background, and then serious romantic feelings pop into the foreground.

Nevertheless, this is a hopeful and thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed and would highly recommend to fellow ChristFic readers–perhaps even ones who don’t normally read romance.

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Home at Last is Book Five in the Chicory Inn series.

Home to Chicory Lane (Chicory Inn #1) Two Roads Home (Chicory Inn, #2) Another Way Home (Chicory Inn #3) Close to Home (Chicory Inn #4)