A Royal Christmas Wedding, by Rachel Hauck

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child! So Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he really wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?

First Thoughts:

Hooray for another Rachel Hauck release! Okay, it might only be a novella but it’s another Brighton Kingdom story so I’m happy.

My Take:

Rachel Hauck takes her readers back to Brighton Kingdom one more time for a bonus fairy tale in The Royal Wedding series. The American sister-in-law of King Nathaniel is coming to visit her sister for Christmas. She’s also hoping to avoid her ex, who happens to be the king’s cousin. Her plans lie back in the USA, and coaching volleyball at either high school or university level. Cathedral City at Christmas might be romantic, but Avery doesn’t plan on having any of it while she’s there.

The novella’s prologue contains a heartbreaking tragedy from 1834 when a member of the royal family died while taking part in a century-old tradition. I wanted to know more about it and how it impacted the people involved. But that isn’t the focus of the book and so I knew I probably wouldn’t get many answers. The first chapter, however, took me to one of my favorite places: the Georgia coast. The book counts down to Christmas and details events from balls to fundraisers, including appearances on the popular Madeline and Hyacinth show. The young royals remind me very much of Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.

A Royal Christmas Wedding is very much a fantasy romance. After all, with the exception of Kate Middleton, there aren’t many ordinary women who marry into royalty. There’s also an element of the supernatural: a chapel bell rings when its rope is tied securely to the wall and no one’s touching it. It does help to have read the novels in the series as there are mentions of events from them. This book brings us full circle in the series, focusing on the Truitt sisters and their dreamy royal loves just as Once Upon a Prince did. Finally, there’s a happy ever after epilogue. This is a true Christmas fairytale to warm the heart at any time of year.

Thank you to TNZFiction’s Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding. No review was required.

Have you read A Royal Christmas Wedding? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 18 October 2016

Page Count: 240

Read more on:   Rachel Hauck’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

My Take:

I always look forward to a new Rachel Hauck book so it was a delight to get my hands on a copy of The Wedding Shop. This is the third in the Wedding Series, following The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel. As with the other two books it is a considered a standalone, but I highly recommend reading those first as this is the book that ties them together. The Wedding Shop takes place in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, location of The Wedding Chapel and Charlotte and the dress from the first book also make an appearance or two. Readers of Hauck’s Royal Wedding series might also see a small connection.

The Wedding Shop opens with a nostalgic scene of two young friends playing pretend in a deserted store front, and it gives a small hint of things to come. Ten years later, Haley is determined to follow through on a promise made that day and recruits Tammy’s former fiancé, Cole, to assist her. But Tammy’s shadow hangs over them…

Haley’s story alternates with that of Cora’s and, as the narrative moves forward, we learn that they’ve been through comparable circumstances. There are a couple of twists I didn’t expect and a development that led me, briefly, in the wrong direction. The combined stories follow the set up Hauck established in The Wedding Dress of looking at the past and present and then pulling all the strands together.

As I said, I look forward to Rachel Hauck’s books and I’m happy that The Wedding Shop didn’t disappoint. They’re easy reading, but they’re enjoyable to read. I’m delighted to recommend Rachel Hauck to anyone who asks.

Thank you to TNZFiction and Celebrate Lit for my complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Celebrate Lit blog tour

Enter to win copies of The Wedding Series. Click the image for information.

wedding-series-giveaway

Have you read The Wedding Shop? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 16 August 2016

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Rachel Hauck’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

The Loyal Heart, by Shelley Shepard Gray

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda’s home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip’s name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He’s mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.

He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn’t prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

My Take:

In January 1865, a group of Confederate soldiers made a vow to look out for each other once the war was over. At the time, they were prisoners in the Johnson’s Island POW camp in Ohio. Although the war would end just three months later, not all of them would leave the camp alive. One of the deceased was Lieutenant Philip Markham, who had spoken often to the group of his wife and made the men also promise to look out for her. Two years later, Miranda is not in a good place. Her in-laws want her out of the family’s home, the townspeople accuse her of running a house of ill repute, and Philip’s reputation is so bad his name is left off the town’s war memorial.

This is the setting for Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest novel, and it’s the start of a new historical series set in Texas about this group of POWs. From its bleak opening, you get a real sense of how the war and its ending impacted both Confederate soldiers and the inhabitants of the rebel states. Some were pragmatic about the loss while others saw it as a huge blow to southern pride. There’s a cast of varied characters, and it’s hard to tell who may or may not be behind the plot to make Miranda’s life such a misery. I particularly liked Miranda’s maid, Belle, and would’ve liked to have known more of her backstory. Galveston is elegantly described although the hurricane of 33 years later was on my mind as I was reading. Finally, the plot is such that just when you think everything has been resolved there’s a new development that could endanger everyone!

Thank you to TNZFiction and BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy of The Loyal Heart, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Loyal Heart? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 12 July 2016

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Author’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com