The Bad Luck Wedding Dress by Geralyn Dawson

Just Finished:

They were calling it the Bad Luck Wedding Dress, and Jenny Fortune knew that spelled trouble for her Fort Worth dressmaking shop. Just because the Bailey girls had met with one mishap or another after wearing Jenny’s loveliest creation, her clientele had begun to stay away in droves. Yet Jenny was still betting she could turn her luck around–by wearing the gown herself at her very own wedding. There’s just one hitch: first she has to find a groom…

Trace McBride seemed as likely a candidate as any. An attractive widower raising three little girls who were fast becoming three little outlaws, Trace badly needed a woman’s loving touch. Jenny wasn’t altogether sure she knew how to get a man to propose marriage, but she was willing to take off her spectacles, let down her honey-blond hair, and even give flirtation a try. But when seduction turns into red-hot passion, Jenny will find herself risking everything–even her life–on the chance that she’ll be lucky in love..
My Thoughts: It dawned on me that I own series of books by authors that I’ve never read. This is the start of one them.

I enjoyed this book very much (in spite of the fact that my copy was missing 30 pages and that the binding was skewed on another 10). Trace and Jenny were a great combination and I thought Ms. Dawson did an excellent job with the telling of their story. This tale had as much humor as it did heart which made it a wonderful reading experience for me.

There were also several background characters that made this book so enjoyable ~ the McBride Menaces (Trace’s three daughters) would be at the front of this list. These girls have a gift for mischief and it was so fun reading about their exploits. They all three have stories in the Bad Luck Brides series and I can’t wait to find out how well they grew up.

Verdict: This was Very Good. Next up will be Trace’s twin brother’s story, The Bad Luck Wedding Cake. I’m looking forward to reading about the further exploits of the McBride family.

The Borrowed Bride by Elizabeth Lane

Just Finished:
Synopsis: “We’re going to have a child. You need to come home so we can get married.”

So wrote Hannah Gustavson to her childhood sweetheart, the father of her baby. But with no response, she was forced to marry another man…her lover’s brother.

Tall, handsome and honorable, Judd Seavers could make any woman’s heart race. Hannah was no exception, and she was awed by the ex-soldier who gave her his name.

A forbidden love as grand as the Rockies crested between them. But a shadow loomed. Would the baby’s father come home? And if he did, would Judd return his borrowed bride?

My Thoughts: I had high hopes for this one when I started it, because I’d been looking forward to reading it months before I actually got around to it. Ms. Lane is a wonderful storyteller and I enjoyed her writing immensely.

However, The Borrowed Bride just didn’t do it for me. I thought that Judd and Hannah fell in love too soon, almost too easy ~ which seemed to detract from any chemistry they might have built. The challenges seemed to be overcome effortlessly, which made the story somewhat hard for me to swallow.

Verdict: This was somewhere between Good and Okay. I had better hopes for this one, but that won’t stop me from buying the sequel, His Substitute Bride, in April. Despite being disappointed with this one, I really am looking forward to Quint’s story.

The Magic of Christmas by Cheryl St. John, Carolyn Davidson, and Victoria Bylin

Just Finished:

Synopsis: Four tiny babes! Three uplifting stories! One Magical Christmas!

A Christmas Child by Carolyn Davidson: Marianne Winters has no one in the world but her baby brother and, with Christmas approaching, she needs somewhere warm to stay. Will she find her home, and a loving heart, with the lonely pastor, David McDermott?

The Christmas Dove by Victoria Bylin: Maddie Cutler once snubbed bad boy Dylan McCall, but with nowhere else to turn she has come back to town—with a babe in arms. Dylan is a reformed man, and on seeing Maddie again he longs to heal her hurt—and claim her once and for all!

A Baby Blue Christmas by Cheryl St. John: Turner Price hasn’t been the same since he lost his wife and child. But when he finds a young woman and newborn twin babies in his stable, he realizes this may be his second chance to be a loving husband and father, just in time for Christmas!

My Thoughts: Recently, I got to experience my very first Cheryl St. John book, Joe’s Wife. Cheryl read my blog post and was kind enough to send me this book as a gift. Since I’m always in the mood to read a good book, I started it right away. Of course, it helped that Sybil had been twittering all over the place about it the week before. The book consisted of three short stories by three authors: Cheryl St. John, Carolyn Davidson, and Victoria Bylin.

A Baby Blue Christmas by Cheryl St. John: I read this one first because I’ve recently become so enamored with CSJ’s storytelling. This tale is no different. I was impressed, because I do think it’s difficult to tell a full narrative within the short story concept. CSJ managed to accomplish this in 93 short pages.

Gabby is a very strong-willed heroine, chasing after her pregnant cousin in Colorado. Although she’s not able to connect with her cousin, Willow, she does find her newborn babies in Tanner’s livery. I felt that Tanner and Gabby had a connection immediately and from their first meeting I looked forward to their story. They of course, have issues to work through. Gabby is ashamed of past; Tanner can’t seem to let go of his. But at the core of it all, CSJ has created two strong, good-hearted characters that I as the reader rooted for from start to finish. Verdict: Very Good

A Christmas Child by Carolyn Davidson: Carolyn Davidson is a new-to-me author so I was looking forward to reading this. I love discovering new authors and at 79 pages, I thought it would be the perfect way to introduce me to CD’s writing style.

I almost put the book down three times reading this story. First, the heroine was described as “a girl, for she was not yet a woman”. That stayed in the back of mind the entire time I read this one. I pictured a young girl, maybe mid-teens? It was a visual I couldn’t shake, even though I did find out halfway through the story that she was 18. I felt pacified, but just barely. Second, Marianne abandons her new-born brother, Joshua, in the manger in front of the church. I was outraged. Third, when I discovered the hero, David, was around thirty. Although, I didn’t feel quite as bad about that when I found out Marianne’s real age. I just wish CD would have mentioned it earlier. Verdict: Okay. Probably not the best Carolyn Davidson story to start out with, but I’m willing to give her another try.

The Christmas Dove by Victoria Bylin: Victoria Bylin is also a new-to-me author, and you all know what a sucker I am for unrequited or reunited romances. This was a great story complete from begging to end, condensed into a mere 83 pages. I can’t wait to see what she can do with a full-length novel.

Maddie was the spoiled daughter of Lord Oliver, a direct descendent of a British duke. She was the princess of the town, and acted the part. Dylan didn’t have it to lucky. He came from a bad family and had a lot to overcome in the eyes of the town. When Maddie left town with a gambler, Dylan tried to warn her not to go. In response, she slapped him and called him trash. One year later, Maddie’s back in town with an illegitimate child.

I enjoyed Maddie and Dylan immensely. I thought their story was very sweet and I enjoyed the fact that Dylan forced Maddie to come to terms with her past so that they could have a future together. It’s ironic how their roles seemed to have reversed; when Maddie left town, Dylan was viewed as nothing more than trash, while Maddie was revered because of who her father was. One year later, Dylan has become a respected citizen and Maddie is seen as the fallen dove. But Dylan doesn’t judge her and forces her to forgive herself. Verdict: Very Good

Joe’s Wife by Cheryl St. John

Just Finished:
Synopsis: Tye Hatcher returned to Aspen Grove to find that life in the sleepy western town hadn’t changed much. The townspeople stubbornly refused to see the man he had become. That is, everybody but Meg Telford. Meg definitely took notice of the reticent rancher and gave him a chance in like when no one else would. Still, Meg clung to the memories of her late husband, afraid of the feelings Tye aroused in her heart. And though Tye vowed to prove his worth to the town, could he ever prove to Meg that he was worthy of her love?

My Thoughts: Cheryl St. John is another new-to-me-author that I just couldn’t wait to try out. I’ve heard so many good things about her, and Kristie raves about this book all the time. So what better book to start off with than Joe’s Wife?

I really enjoyed this story. Tye has always been an outcast in town because of his background, but Meg had always been nice to him ~ even when they were kids. When Meg’s husband, Joe, dies in the war she needs a husband in order to keep her ranch afloat. So she asks Tye.

I enjoyed the elements of family and friendship in this one. The building of the relationship between Meg and Tye was told very well, as was the slow warming of the community towards Tye. The story was very well written and flowed easily.

Verdict: This was Very Good. So good, in fact, I’ve ordered several of CSJ’s back list to be added to the TBR pile. I cannot wait to read them.

The Texan’s Dream by Jodi Thomas

Just Finished:

Synopsis: Fleeing trouble in Pittsburgh, young Kara O’Riley has no choice but to travel as far west as her meager funds will take her. And when she is hired as a bookkeeper for a sprawling Texas ranch, she quickly decides that her new employer, Jonathan Catlin, is the coldest, strangest man she’s ever known. He tells her he has exactly one year to make the ranch a success – – but she has a feeling there’s an awful lot more he’s not telling her. For one thing, there’s something odd about the Catlin Ranch. For another, she has glimpsed a hint of tenderness in Jonathan’s gorgeous, haunted eyes – – and suddenly her lonely, aching heart is filled with fire . . . ..

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. I loved the relationship between Jonathan and Kara. I liked the friendship that they built, knowing that they were attracted to each other. I think that Kara complimented him because she was a fiery Irish girl, which I think Jonathan, a self-proclaimed savage, needed. She stood up to him and she stood up for him. Even though things seemed to progress quickly, the story was paced wonderfully and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Verdict: This was Very Good. It is the 5th in the McLain series, so I am anxious to pick up the other books in the series and read them soon.