First Light by Erynn Newman

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.

First Light by Erynn Newman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Drew and Elisabeth have loved each other since their teenaged years. But the personal tragedy that hits their lives on September 11th shakes the foundation of their relationship in First Light by author Erynn Newman.

Well! This novelette pulled me right in. The moments I liked best said just enough, as leaving out elaborations of implied information can be smart and compelling, especially in short reads.

The ending became oversweet for me, maybe because a more minimal approach was working well earlier in the story. But even so, I’d say these romantic vignettes with a dash of danger are an effective setup for a romantic suspense novel to follow.

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And the romantic suspense novel that follows is Out of Darkness.

 

Finding Love Isn’t All about Your Looks, Age, Etc.

This is a rare kind of post for me, but I had a feeling someone might need to hear it.

And even with the title of this post, can I admit “finding love” is an iffy expression for me? Sure, I use it to be understood, and I get what it means, but many people give and receive love. Facilitate and nurture love. Cherish and protect love. They acknowledge and recognize love…but they don’t necessarily just “find” it, as if love is something they can hunt for in the woods or locate in the city with the assistance of signs and arrows. “Hey, look—there’s some love for me over here! I just found it.”

But anyhow.

I get the impression sometimes that people think one’s looks, age, and certain other basic or obvious factors are either automatic guarantees or automatic hindrances to romantic companionship.

I figure there’s a lot in society, from many romantic movies and romance novels to the various cultures of different social and religious circles, that makes folks believe or assume that everybody who desires romance is supposed to find the right companion by their early-to-mid twenties or so…

…and that if it doesn’t happen for you by then, something must be wrong. Or something must be wrong with you. Likewise, the further you get away from your early-to-mid twenties, the greater the wrongness must be if you still haven’t met that wonderful someone.

(Granted, I’m sure biology and the window of prime childbearing years has plenty to do with people’s thoughts about love’s appropriate/optimal timeline.)

Nevertheless, as far as physical attractiveness goes, I do want to point out that getting hit on and such isn’t the same thing as having serious companionship, of course, and receiving attention and propositions and offers because of one’s looks doesn’t necessarily make finding the right companion any easier. It can even make it harder, as more incoming attention can mean there’s more incoming pretense and all other kinds of stuff a person has to sort through, question, sidestep, or even run away from on the romance road.

Just saying.

Really, there are people some folks consider to be strange or plain who end up with the love of their lives straight out of high school or college, and there are people who have plenty of positives going for them but are in their forties or fifties, still single and looking. Some folks know who they’re going to marry from the time they’re children, and other folks go through series of prospects that don’t work out before they meet the right person. Some people are grumpy, sloppy, and happily coupled, and other folks are sweet, neat, and still alone.

Now, I’m not dismissing the fact that sometimes there are issues hindering romance besides “it just hasn’t happened yet.” A person may have some learning, growing, healing, or other preparation that needs to take place before they’ll be ready for what it takes to have a healthy romantic relationship.

Still, meeting someone for suitable companionship simply doesn’t happen for everyone at the same time of life or after a “magic number” of tries or dates—no matter who they are, what they look like, what their personalities are like, whether they first meet people online or in person, or whatever the case may be. Just because you haven’t met someone who’s right for you doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Life unfolds differently for everybody, on different timelines.

And that’s okay.

For me as an author, while romance isn’t my primary genre, I write romances to reflect that real love isn’t all about one’s looks or age, and that being or finding the “ideal” package isn’t necessarily an easy ticket to a Happily Ever After.

Even so, I believe romantic love is beautiful, and I do aim to write stories of hope, even when a couple’s journey won’t be easy.

 

All is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

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.

All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Delilah Carter, manager of the Tidewater Inn, has been busy planning a Christmas wedding for her friends, but someone runs her off the road and into the ocean one night. She tries to downplay it as a mere accident afterwards, but she isn’t really buying it, and neither is Sheriff Tom Bourne, the man who’s been harboring feelings for Delilah in All is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by author Colleen Coble.

I’ve not read any of the Hope Beach novels, and this book includes a lot of characters whose stories I’m sure have already been told. While I figured the brief mentions and appearances of those characters would have been meaningful to me if I’d read the other books, I was only interested in Delilah and Tom’s story here.

Even with the darker thread of suspense running through this, much of the story was an easy read for me. Because it’s clear that Delilah and Tom have got some background together, the development of their relationship doesn’t come off as rushed or as if their strengthening emotions are popping out of nowhere.

Now, the critical point of danger in the story is a rather obvious setup, more convenient than believable. But the best part of the story for me concerns an awesome Christmas gift that warmed my heart along with the characters.

And, yes, the Christmas lights and the homey feel captured on a softly bright evening on the book cover got me to read this novella.

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The Hope Beach Series

All is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

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.

All Is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

After witnessing a murder, Lauren Everman seeks sanctuary at the Bluebird Ranch during the Christmas season. Brendan Waddell is also staying at the ranch to recover from a gunshot wound he sustained during his Special Ops work. And he’s got reason to suspect Lauren in connection with the murder she witnessed in All is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by author Colleen Coble.

I haven’t read any of the novels in the Lonestar series, but I didn’t have to before reading this standalone book. In keeping with its lovely cover of twinkling nighttime stars and Christmas lights, the story includes holiday warmth, affection, faith, and peace.

The unfolding suspense was what I liked most about this story, as the plot turned out to be a little more involved than I was expecting. However, I tend to prefer a sharper style in suspense reads. Some parts here didn’t feel the most natural or original, especially concerning the romance, and I’m not convinced when a dangerous scene seems contrived—when a character walks into or remains in an obviously hazardous situation instead of getting out of there or calling for help.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this fairly quick read overall. It was my first time trying this author, and I plan to do so again.

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The Lonestar Series