First, a special thank you to Ms. Julie Lessman for gifting me this book such a long time ago(months to be exact), my apologies for the late review!
We are back at Isle of Hope in Georgia, where the scenes are a slice of heaven and God’s love and strength reign supreme.
This book definitely served up sweet iced tea and spice in classic Julie Lessman style. I love her sweet books and the hunky guys who steal hearts. This book was just as addicting.
Cat O’Bryen, is a feisty, spitfire wildflower who is definitely not like her calm, sweet twin sister Shan, and the hunky pastor Chase Griffin, knows this and does all he can to steer clear of the saucy, competitive twin.
But Cat sees Chase as her biggest win: an honest, god-fearing man who would never hurt her, so why does he keep pushing her away? He pushes her so far in fact, that Cat begins to question if being around her “holier than thou” family is even possible and does God truly love her at all if people consider her the “bad twin”?
I rooted for these two, I truly did because Cat was lost and so was Chase. However, Chase came off as stuffy and harsh towards Cat(reminded me of a Korean Drama I am watching where the guy is so cold towards the main character). I couldn’t figure Chase out. On one hand I understand that he was trying to ward off temptation(this is a good sign), but the way he did it was awful. Plus, he referred to her constantly as “Kiddo” which made her seem like some underage brat and him as a father instead of a love interest.
Let me ease up on Chase a bit here…he does have a past and you’ll have to read the story to find out why this hunk of a man keeps Cat at bay all the time.
Another sweet hit from Lessman folks, and I hope you do read her books, she definitely knows how to add spice to sweet fiction with the right amount of heat!
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Her Secret Life by Tiffany L. Warren
Published by Dafina Books(2017)
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0872-4 Book received for free from Netgalley
Note: This book can be categorized as Christian Fiction but has a few disturbing scenes and language you may find distasteful.
Her Secret Life was actually a pretty good book. It had all the right ingredients.
Including the ingredient for annoyance.
Onika was born to a cracked out black mother and handsome Puerto Rican father/pimp.
Her grandmother, Earlene ends up raising her in a strict, religious home.
Every day Onika and her grandmother prayed for her mother to be healed by God and for years that never happens. Coupled with Earlene’s ornery attitude, Onika eventually gives up on Church and God completely and no one can blame her at this point.
Eventually, Onika earns a full scholarship to a prestigious college in Washington, D.C. where she meets a handsome guy at least ten years older than she and that is when things get really interesting…
She was Judy’s child. It was inevitable that she’d be addicted to something. [Quote from Her Secret Life, 2017]
She is not my favorite character at all.
The book itself is actually quite good. It kept me up reading very late, I talked my husband’s ears off about it, so yeah it was pretty good.
The author wrote in a way that makes me believe she actually knew these people. I think this is what made me dislike Onika all the way around.
Onika comes off as proud and even intelligent. Then she’d turn around and do something utterly dumb.
There were times in the story where I lost all pity for this girl and I feel bad because I knew people who have been in bad situations like her so she has every right to feel like she need to keep her life private.
But to lie to everyone…?
Then disrespect those helping you?
I could not take it anymore. When I lose connection to a character, the story is lost for me. I began rooting for Graham(Onika’s new love interest) and enjoying Charmagne’s(Onika’s benefactor) character. Even though Charmagne was a holy roller and attributes every single thing to God all the time, she had a Christ-like attitude and was refreshing to the story.
This book also touches on issues such as colorism, drugs, and Christianity/Churchianity.
Again, a very nice book, but I abhorred Onika’s character.
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-The Write Web
His hands crushed mine, not tenderly, but tender in love and fiercely. The honey brown orbs that were his eyes, pierced mine as he grabbed hold of me, already feeling me slip away.
I never seen my boyfriend cry before. But I am now. It hurts like no other pain.
Everything was growing blurry…two of him, twin tearing men. His white shirt, rumpled with a few paling brown coffee stains splattered on the front, probably from rushing into to see me in my final hour.
“NANINNNNNE! Don’t you dare leave ME!” He growled, his hands no longer felt tight on mine. Was I slipping from this world to the next so soon?
I said something, I think. My lips moved, a tear raced down my cheek as my truly handsome boyfriend stared in terror.
Did not matter how often we prepped for this moment.
All the prayers and all the research of my breast cancer. Late stage, lead us here. I guess, the Final Act cuts deep.
My grip suddenly felt ghost to me. Foreign. My hold loosened on it own as Eric leaned closer to me. My family were all crowded around me, their hands touching my legs, my stomach. Praying. Weeping.
A door slammed in the distance. Another reaction to my dying.
Adin’s warm breath reached my eyelids. My heart began a lub….DUB….lub…..so achingly slow. My lungs couldn’t catch up to any natural rhythm either. The pain meds wore off long ago.
“Nanine.” He slides his hand up the side of my arm. “Don’t. You. Leave. Me. I will chase you across worlds. Remember? I will-” My poor man choked up. I gather strength enough to look into his eyes.
What I saw shocked me.
Shocked me enough to make my heart hit a few beeps.
His eyes, pupils dilated, were deep pools of black. His full lips leaned down over me and my gaze stuck to his as his hot lips landed on mine sensuously in front of everyone.
Only Adin can make me feel this way. Even with my bald head, body nothing but bones from the chemo that ravaged my body, he made me feel sexy. Alive. Always have.
His hot gaze, fierce, determined, supremely angry, swallowed me whole. I believed for a full minute that he literally could chase my soaring soul to wherever.
Our connection have always been so strong.
After the kiss, he only moved an inch from my face and ran his hand down my cheek. “I will find you.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t chase air. My heart’s rhythm, a normal drum in my chest, ceased it’s beat.
I can’t! I can’t breathe! My heart won’t tick!
The room, Adin, my family their echoes of pain sounded so far away. I mentally clawed for life. Clawed for it.
Adin’s face of anguish, his honey eyes were the last things I saw before complete darkness overtook me.
My lips were kissing something wet and very cool. Smooth.
My eyes were drawn so tight, they felt like lead at this point and I was afraid to open them. My memory slipped from me. Where am I ?
I risked opening my eyes slowly, shocked at the clarity without my glasses. In clear, HD panoramic view, there were lush trees and bushes everywhere, birds chirping.
Some cherry blossoms, floated by me and landed near my face. My face was hovering above clear, beautiful liquid, too amazing to just call water.
My body felt so…clean and lightweight.
Staring at my reflection, I was shocked my skin seemed to glow whereas it was usually pale. It had a hint of gold to it, but the ripples in the water from my movement caused my shimmery glow to vanish.
I finally pushed myself up and on the bank, startling a small squirrel prancing around, chasing its own tail.
The squirrel seemed more orange than brown.
Where am I?
A deeply male, familiar voice made my heart race. I look down at my slightly sun kissed skin and was terrified at how I could see through hands, as though through a veil.
The male approached me.
He was as naked as I am. Shimmering like me. Barely solid, barely ghost.
Oddly familiar too.
His eyes were large, his body designed and perfected in some lab probably and his lips had to be fashioned in supreme love by God himself. I felt nervous, giddy, confused.
He approached me but kept a safe enough distance. “Welcome home, Nanine.”
He reached out to me with his hand. Feeling lost and so utterly confused, even with all the beauty surrounding me, I take his large hand.
“I told you I would chase you from one world to the next.”
Familiar words. Familiar face and lips. Those eyes.
Why did they look so familiar?
Why do I feel…connected to him somehow?
Stay tuned this week for the short conclusion to this love story!
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No more conscious of sins, is the theme here for such a wonderful, romantic filled story by one of my favorite writers today, Julie Lessman.
In Love Everlasting,Shannon O’Bryen is tasked with ensuring that playboy, heart throb Sam Cunningham, gets home safely after a night of him imbibing.
Shannon’s brother Jack warns her that Sam can charm anyone. In fact after reading this book I understand how he can charm the skin and fangs off a snake. With this fair warning, Shannon promises she won’t take the bait. However during Sam’s drunken state with him calling her Angel Eyes as she wipes him down clean and cook him food, Shannon already feels…something but even more importantly, Sam feels it too. On a major level. The question is, does he still love the sexy Jasmine, or will he give in to his warm feelings for the woman who rescued him? A woman who seems as pure and moral and untouchable as a saint?
Note: Feel Free to skip to the extended character review of Sam and Shannon!
If you have not read Book 1, I suggest you do, technically you have to read that one to understand the relationship dynamic among the people of Isle of Hope, Georgia. However in theory one could still read Love Everlasting and enjoy the work tremendously.
Seriously this book was fun, serious, and very romantic. The characters and the setting works for a very strong story here. Isle of Hope is a real place and is very beautiful with its Southern charm of lakes and greenery you can imagine the characters as real people walking down the Isle for a nice stroll or a swim.
Lessman’s creativity when it comes to characters is strong as well. Sam was well rounded. He is a doctor but comes from a troubled past. He knows what he needs and what he wants. Shannon is a quiet soul. She is like me. She is a writer, she loves God and is about marriage and family but even she has a secret that just may destroy whatever it is she wants with Sam.
Loved this book. You have to read it.
**I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
Wait! Here’s a Juicy Extended Character Review: What Makes a Great Romance 101
Love Everlasting is one of those books where character is everything. In fact in most books, that is what drives the story. I want to point out a few of the reasons why this book received five stars by focusing on the two main characters Shannon and Sam.
Successful children’s doctor.
Was once orphaned himself.
Very charming and intelligent.
Has swoon worthy looks and appeal.
Who can tame a playboy?
What I loved most about Sam is that he has a boyish side to him that only Shannon has seen. His temper tantrums or not wanting to share her. But he is such a poet and his words made me melt:
That’s because it’s not just a kiss,” he whispered bowing his head to touch his forehead to hers. “It’s the gift of my heart, Shan, all wrapped up.”(pg.220).
Now on to Shannon.
A believer in Christ.
Cleaned Sam after his vomit of liquor(so, she is caring).
Jack is Shannon’s brother.
Jack is also Sam’s good friend, soooo…
Shannon is off limits(or should be off limits) to Sam.
Yet, Shannon is not so squeaky clean. You see, Sam views Shannon as an angel, unmarred by sin.
He wants Jasmine back so bad that he enlists Shannon’s help to get her back and one of Shannon’s requirements is that he become a believer in God. But is Shannon herself perfect? After a while, Sam moves from head over heels for Shannon to an all out love for her and for Shannon that is good and not so good.
Wait until he learns her secret.
This book definitely deserves the five stars because anytime you have the Playboy Meets the Angel, sparks sure does fly!
Did you guys read the story too? What did you think?
I review lots of books in many categories. From Teen Fiction to Sensual Romance, yet Christian Fiction holds a very special place in my heart.
I hope that after reading this list, you would consider reading some Christian titles yourself.
Reason #1: The Sweetness of It
Under the category of Christian Fiction, you find these beautiful, lovely books about a more simplified way of life. I don’t know why I am drawn to them. I fell in love with Amish Fiction when I read The Englisher by Beverly Lewis. Romance in a time of simplicity is a sweet diversion from what I usually read.
Reason #2: A Better Alternative for Any Faith
If you’re like me, then picking the right book can be hard when you are in the faith. Again, I review a bit of everything and I do mean everything.
These small books of no more than one hundred pages, are very powerful and uplifting and perfect for church libraries!
Reason #3: Every Age Can Enjoy the Books.
Tired of having to sift through books to see what your children can read without muddying their minds?
Christian Fiction typically offers books that are “clean”. This means even in the teen category of Christian Fiction, the books are pretty much acceptable. Most address serious topics with rawness and caution at the same time.
One particular speculative fiction I enjoyed was Captives by Jill Williamson. In fact, the book could be in any category not just Christian Fiction because it is so futuristic, full of action, some romance, and reminds you of the Hunger Games just a bit.
I fell in love with that book and am tempted to read it over again…
Reason#3: Gothic…Sensual, Pick Your Flavor.
In recent years, certain Christian authors have appealed to wider audiences and some even linked with secular writers to create unique stories.
One of my favorite Christian Fantasy/Paranormal authors is Debbie Viguie. I fell in love with Kiss of Night and Kiss of Death as well as her addicting Crusade series co-authored with Nancy Holder.
Julie Lessman has a similar superpower, but hers is honed in the art of passion. I fell in love with Lessman’s writing beginning with A Passion Most Pure.
She is unashamed in capturing the raw love a man has for a woman, his touches, his kisses, the taunts and banter- I love it! Currently, I am reading Book 2 in the Isle of Hope Series, Love Everlasting.
Another interesting writer of contemporary and historical books, is Lisa Tawn Bergren, author of the Northern Lights trilogy(I absolutely adored that series!)
Reason #4: You Can Even Have Smart Fiction
When I think of Smart Fiction, I think of writers like Tosca Moon Lee.
She takes historical pieces we’ve been told and then with her incredible writing talent, shows us what could have happened.
I was in a Christian bookstore one day, years ago, and I remember seeing this scarlet, paperback book lying on a shelf called Demon: A Memoir.
I was like, “What inspirational bookstore would carry that?”
And knowing me, I had to have it.
I bought it and read it.
Then re-read it.
Talked about it. Couldn’t believe how mysterious and potent it was.
Then I read her book, Havah: The Story of Eve. Iscariot. Books, that only she could write.
Let’s not forget T.L. Higley. I remember staying up really late reading her historical novels like Garden of Madness, City of the Dead, Guardian of the Flame, and a few others worth reading. But it began with Shadow of Colossus.
The books I’ve listed do not preach at you. They are well written stories by people who have a faith in God. Their stories are built upon their faith, yes, because what is in a person comes out, but the books are creative and entertaining like any other.
Probably more so than some books out here.
Some authors of note for you to check out whose works I have enjoyed:
Victoria Christopher Murray
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First off, when I learned this book was written by a seventeen year old honor student, I expected nothing less than an emotional rollercoaster, especially given the backdrop of the story.
However, Ashley Royer created memorable characters and scenes that will easily resonate with teenagers and older folks alike.
Levi is a boy you just want to hold and tell him everything will be alright(but if you read the book, you will understand he does not want that). His depression and anxiety are so palpable that the story nearly pulled some tears out of me.
Second, Delilah is a budding rose of fresh air for everyone. She works in the place where Levi goes for his therapy session. Without giving away too many spoilers, I will say that Delilah and Levi did not hit it off immediately. Still mourning the death of his girlfriend literally controls everything Levi does and does not do.
Finally, the scenes.
Ashley Royer has created memorable scenes perfect for Hallmark cards and poems. From awkward airport moments, to hot chocolate and ice skating, her ability to write such believable scenes and characters and her control over pacing is astounding.
Other than some typos calling Levi “Luke” and other small nuances, this book is great enough as a compelling read for anyone battling depression, but looking for clean, sweet romance.